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Missed Cancer Diagnoses: Signs You May Have a Case

Approximately 39% of men and women will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in their lifetime according to recent evidence. Fortunately, advances in both medicine and treatment have increased the survival rate for many of those people.

But only if it’s caught in time.

Many cancers are treatable if identified in the early stages. If too much time elapses, though, the cancer may metastasize and make recovery more difficult, more expensive, or in the truly tragic cases, downright impossible.

Early detection and diagnosis is crucial when it comes to surviving cancer.

Cancer and the United States

An abnormal growth of cells, the disease can quickly multiply and spread to various parts of the body. In fact, there are over 100 different types of cancer, with breast, lung and bronchus, prostate, colon and rectum, and bladder the top five in terms of American cases.

In addition to the pain, suffering, and death it can generate, cancer care expenditure in the United States was almost $125 billion in 2010, and that number is expected to hit $156 billion by 2020.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the country, second only to heart disease, with an estimated 1,685,210 new cases – and nearly 600,000 deaths – this year alone.

The third leading cause? Medical error or misdiagnosis. That’s a frightening statistic. Recent research suggests it accounts for about 10% of annual deaths across the country.

Misdiagnosis of Cancer

There are more than 12 million medical misdiagnoses each year, and as many as half of those are cancer-related. A quarter of all malpractice lawsuits are related to either a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis in the US.

As many as 1 in 70 patients are diagnosed with cancer when they do not actually have the disease, leading to unnecessary treatment, surgery, or chemotherapy.

But many people are misdiagnosed with something else when they do in fact have cancer. This can lead to missed treatment options, and increased mortality rates. Timing is everything with this disease.

To be blunt, a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis can prove fatal. It can turn what could have been a simple tumor removal or short treatment into something very lengthy, costly, and painful. It can have life-changing ramifications for even survivors.

Missed Cancer Diagnoses
There are many reasons a doctor might miss a cancer diagnosis:

  1. They don’t take a detailed family history
  2. They fail to complete a thorough exam
  3. They misinterpret or ignore patient symptoms
  4. They don’t check or screen for cancer despite the symptoms suggesting otherwise
  5. They don’t refer a patient to a cancer specialist
  6. There are communication breakdowns between the doctor, the lab, and other hospital staff
  7. They misread test results, such as an MRI, CT scan, x-ray, mammogram, or PAP smear
  8. Mislabeled or misdirected lab results

All of these are examples of negligence in one way or another, and if your cancer diagnosis was delayed because of them, you’re entitled to compensation to help with the fallout.

There’s no excuse for it. A missed or delayed diagnosis can leave you confused, angry, frustrated, and perhaps even fighting for your life. Those responsible should be held accountable.

Missed Diagnosis and Medical Malpractice

In order to launch a successful medical malpractice suit, your lawyer must prove negligence in either their examination of you, or their interpretation of results. You must be able to answer ‘yes’ to each of the following questions:

  1. Did the doctor owe you a duty? If you were in an official doctor-patient relationship, the answer is yes.
  2. Did they deviate from “standard of care”? If another doctor or expert would have properly diagnosed based on the same evidence, the answer is yes.
  3. Did this failure on their part cause you harm (physical, financial, condition worsened, medical bills, missed work)? If yes, then you have a strong malpractice case.

Nothing can get back the lost time and treatment options, but a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis should not put undue financial strain on you or your family.

A battle with cancer is hard enough without having to worry about finances. If your fight has been made more difficult by a missed or delayed diagnosis, contact the malpractice lawyers at Duffy & Duffy, PLLC.

We’ll get you the justice you deserve so you can put 100% of your efforts into winning that fight.