Negligent cancer treatment causes brain damage - £7 million

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Negligent cancer treatment causes brain damage - £7 million

Michael, now 35

Michael suffered severe brain damage when he was 17 after cancer doctors gave him too high a dose of radiotherapy during treatment for a brain tumour. As a result, Michael was left unable to work for a living or live independently and requires specialist carers. Melissa Gardner, a partner specialising in brain injuries caused by medical negligence at JMW, secured £7 million in compensation to provide the lifelong financial assistance Michael requires.

Brain tumour  

Michael was diagnosed with a brain tumour after suffering symptoms that included seizures and headaches. Initially doctors at the specialist cancer hospital that Michael was referred to decided that a ‘watch and wait’ plan with close monitoring of Michael was the best course of action. However, a few months later an MRI scan of Michael’s brain showed that the tumour was growing and doctors decided that it was time to operate to remove it.

During the operation the brain surgeon found he was only able to safely remove 50 per cent of the tumour. Michael recovered well from the surgery and only experienced mild after effects. 


A doctor who reviewed Michael’s condition two months later was concerned that he required further treatment with radiotherapy as otherwise the tumour would continue to grow, albeit at a slow rate. A plan was made to start radiotherapy as soon as possible.

About two weeks later Michael attended the specialist cancer hospital for his first dose of radiotherapy. The plan was to split the required radiotherapy in 20 separate appointments administered over a four week period. However the doctors made inaccurate calculations regarding the dose which was to be given at each appointment. As a result Michael was given the full treatment in only 10 sessions over the course of just 13 days.

Initially Michael was doing well with only mild side effects and was enjoying life as normal. A few weeks later, the errors with the radiotherapy treatment was realised by doctors and Michael was asked to go back to discuss this. The risks of bone and brain tissue dying (necrosis) due to the errors were explained to Michael but that that the brain necrosis can take several months to become apparent. 

Brain necrosis 

A few months later Michael developed blurred vision in his left eye. Over the next few months this deteriorated until he was partially blind. He also developed other worrying symptoms which included paralysis on his right side and severe headaches. An MRI scan revealed damage to Michael’s brain around the site of the tumour, which was suspected to be necrosis. 

Over coming months Michael deteriorated further, losing the use of his arms and legs and reducing his mobility to just a few steps. He also found he could not communicate as before, had poor concentration and short-term memory. His brain function worsened to the point that he could not work and required constant care from his parents. 

JMW’s investigation

Michael’s parents were put in touch with the JMW medical negligence team, which specialises in brain injury cases. By conducting a complex investigation and gathering evidence from leading experts in the fields of neurology and cancer care they were able to prove that the amount of radiotherapy given to Michael had been too high over too short as period. The team concluded that this had had disastrous consequences for Michael and had caused a significant amount of his brain tissue to die.

The trust responsible for the cancer hospital admitted the errors due to the strength of JMW’s case, enabling negotiations to begin on how the amount of compensation Michael would require to cope with his severe disabilities. Michael’s needs included specialist carers, an adapted house and aids and equipment.

The compensation awarded to Michael was £7 million over the course of his lifetime. 

Before this appalling error Michael was planning a career and one day having a family. That was cruelly taken away from him and his parents have had to watch him suffer the indignity of losing both his physical and mental abilities. Their love and dedication to their son has shone through and I am pleased they will have help with the financial consequences of Michael’s negligent care.

Melissa Gardner, a partner at JMW specialising in brain injury cases who acted for Michael

Get in touch

JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients. JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading lawyer, Eddie Jones.

Please contact us using the enquiry form or call us on 0345 872 666.

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