The widow of a man who died after doctors failed to diagnose an orange-sized cancerous tumour in her husband's throat accepted a £275,000 out-of-court settlement yesterday.

Barnsley District Hospital NHS Trust and a team of GPs agreed compensation after a court heard of the "horrific" death of Malcolm Harding two years after he first raised concerns about his health.

Mr Harding, 41, a lorry driver from Barnsley, first complained of a pain from a lump in his neck in 1994 and a year later a doctor at Barnsley District Hospital found an abnormal node in his neck ­ but the hospital failed to tell Mr Harding or his GP.

Mr Harding's widow Rita, 46, and 10-year-old daughter, Rebecca, sought damages from the hospital and three GPs who subjected Mr Harding to a 15-month delay before he was diagnosed.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how even after he was diagnosed as suffering a rare cancer of the tonsils in October 1996 Mr Harding complained to Dr Usha Anand of breathing difficulties but was told he had influenza. He died the following morning after collapsing on his kitchen floor when a 6in by 4in tumour blocked his airway.

Mrs Harding told the court: "He was thrashing about on the floor. It was a slow, painful death. It was horrific." She added later that she was "delighted and very relieved" at the settlement. The hospital will pay 10 per cent of the settlement and the three doctors the remaining 90 per cent.

Barnsley District Hospital NHS Trust said in a statement: "Throughout these proceedings we have sought honestly and truthfully to explain our role in [Mr Harding's] care."

A statement issued by the Medical Protection Society on behalf of the three doctors said: "We were saddened by the death and would like to offer our sincere apology and express our deepest sympathy to Mrs Harding and her family."