But by the time doctors made that discovery, 85-year-old William Lintern already had pneumonia and died a few days later from it on his birthday.
William was complaining about chest pains and trouble breathing when he went to the doctors in Solihull, U.K. Upon looking at his chest x-ray, doctors told him he had a "sizable and aggressive" tumor in his lung.
Because William had survived cancer twice, doctors were looking for cancer when he came in with his symptoms. They began treating him for cancer and he soon contracted pneumonia.
His son, Roger Lintern, 56, is considering suing the hospital because he believes his father would still be alive if it were not for the misdiagnosis. He said his dad lost his will to live and believed the cancer would kill him.
"I am certain he would have been alive today had they found out he had the virus much earlier and treated him correctly in the first place," Roger said.
"When my dad was told he had cancer, he lost the will to live. His body started to pack up and he was convinced he wouldn't survive. But all along, it was just a pea stuck in his right lung."
Doctors performed a bronchoscopy when he had pneumonia to determine whether or not he actually had cancer.
That bronchoscopy came back negative for cancer, indicating he had a pea stuck in his lung rather than a tumor.
Though it was good news, William died a few days later of pneumonia.
Roger filed a complaint with the hospital. They responded with a statement, which apologized for his father's misdiagnosis and for replying to him so late.
"We are extremely sorry that there has been a delay in responding to Mr. Lintern's complaint. This is unacceptable and is not the high standard that we aim for when responding to concerns raised by patients and their families," the statement said. "We will be investigating the delay further and will directly contact Mr. Lintern to address this matter."
"The safety and care of all our patients is a priority for our doctors and nurses and if there is a case where we have not delivered the best care possible, we will always investigate into why and how we can do things better."