A patient who was given the devastating news he had cancer on his 50th birthday has been left reeling after finding out he was wrongly diagnosed.

Anthony Harrison received a letter telling him he had pancreatic cancer as he prepared to celebrate his birthday – but was left shocked and confused after hospital appointments did not confirm the diagnosis.

Mr Harrison, of Lambert Avenue in Richmond, demanded answers from Kingston Hospital, where the mix-up happened and has lodged a complaint with the hospital’s trust.

However, a spokeswoman said she could not comment on individual patients’ cases.

Mr Harrison, a former worker at Kew’s National Archives, said: "The whole thing was very distressing.

"I rang my vicar to arrange my own funeral plans and had to break the news to my family on my 50th birthday.

"My family were devastated and I think they still think I have cancer and that I’m just trying to spare their feelings."

The 50-year-old, who was originally admitted to the hospital with jaundice, was given the life-changing news on December 30, but said he still could not believe what had happened and could not understand how specialists could have made the mistake.

He said: "I got a letter on my birthday stating the results of a biopsy showed I had confirmed cancer of the pancreas.

"But then when I had more tests they said the mass had disappeared.

"Since lodging a complaint, I have also received a new letter from Kingston Hospital with a different diagnosis, stating there is no obvious malignancy, but there was suggested evidence of low grade neoplasm (not synonymous with cancer).

"I just want some answers."

The family man, who suffered a stroke 11 years ago following surgery on a brain tumour, also said he was shocked the hospital did not give him his diagnosis in person.

After receiving the copy of the letter referring him to Royal Marsden Hospital for treatment, he had to call his own doctor, who then confirmed that Kingston Hospital’s diagnosis was that of cancer.

Mr Harrison complained to the hospital about his misdiagnosis and is awaiting a copy of his records. He has been told this will take 40 days.

Kingston Hospital said it was unable to comment on Mr Harrison’s case because of patient confidentiality.

A spokeswoman added: "We hope to meet with Mr Harrison soon."