A cancer diagnosis ranks among the most feared pieces of news a person can receive. Unfortunately, more than a million Americans receive such news every year. In 2016 alone, more than 1.6 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer, and an estimated 600,000 died from the disease.
In a twist of irony, given how a cancer diagnosis is a sucker punch to the gut, it can be even worse not to receive one. That is because when cancer remains undetected in your body, it can grow, metastasize, and become impossible to cure. Misdiagnosis of cancer may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If cancer was misdiagnosed by your doctor, it may have been for one of several reasons.
Delay in Diagnosis
Many cancer misdiagnoses result not from a wrongful diagnosis but from a failure to diagnose the condition in the first place. If you were diagnosed with a late stage of cancer but feel your doctor had enough information to diagnose you sooner, you might be a victim of malpractice.
By reading through the following three sections, you can get an idea of whether any of the common reasons for cancer diagnosis delays applied to your situation with your doctor.
Failure to Recommend Screening
Certain types of cancer are prevalent in specific populations, and doctors recommend members of those groups get screened regularly. Since many of these cancers do not present obvious symptoms in early stages, screening serves as one of the most common ways to get diagnosed and treated early.
Some well-known examples of recommended cancer screens include mammograms for women, colorectal screening, and prostate exams for men over 40. Diligent doctors recommend additional screens to their patients based on unique characteristics. For instance, melanoma checks for those with fair skin or a family history of skin cancer.
Failure to Recognize Symptoms
For any cancer, there is a list of symptoms commonly associated with the disease. Returning to the melanoma example, it is often spotted when a mole grows, changes colors, or presents an irregular shape.
Your doctor’s job is to recognize these symptoms, and, when he or she notices them, to order additional screening or run lab tests to confirm or rule out the disease.
Failure to Consider Risk Factors
Not every patient has the same risk of developing cancer. Each type of cancer has risk factors that make certain people more likely to get it based on their genetics and lifestyle. For instance, while lung cancer can undoubtedly strike anybody at any time, it is much more likely to appear in the 63-year-old two-pack-a-day smoker than in the 26-year-old triathlete.
That said, not all risk factors are this obvious. Your doctor has a responsibility to learn your family history and medical history to help determine if you have an elevated risk of any serious disease. If you do, your doctor should keep this information in mind when you complain of certain symptoms.
Improper or Erroneous Diagnosis
Even if your doctor recommends the proper screening and recognizes the signs and symptoms of cancer, misdiagnoses still happen. They are usually the result of mistakes in evaluating scans or overlooking pertinent signs and symptoms.
Mistakes in Evaluating Scans
To detect the presence of cancer, doctors frequently order scans, such as CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays. But in order for these scans to provide accurate information, your doctor must read them and interpret the results correctly. A mistake can lead to an incorrect diagnosis.
Overlooking Signs and Symptoms
If you visited the same doctor or health care practice several times and presented the same complaint each time, but your doctor never made the connection between your symptoms and cancer, then your doctor might have overlooked evidence they should have picked up on. If so, your doctor might be negligent in failing to uphold a duty of care to you, which is one of the chief components of medical malpractice.
Call Pintas & Mullins Today to Discuss Your Options for Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
The Pintas & Mullins team is ready to start working on your medical malpractice case today. If your doctor misdiagnosed your cancer and you suffered harm as a result, we want to hear from you. We offer a free case evaluation to determine your legal options and how we can help.
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