Medical research has dramatically improved the way many cancers are treated. In fact, some cancers are almost always successfully treated and cured. However, while methods for diagnosing cancer have improved over the years, the time that doctors spend with their patients have decreased. Many patients visit their doctors with health concerns and troublesome symptoms, only to have their concerns ignored and their conditions left undiagnosed until it is too late. In cases of cancer, this delayed diagnosis can have devastating effects on the patient and cost the patient a chance at a cure.
Cancers can be diagnosed at different stages in their development. Stages of cancer diagnosis can be expressed as numbers (I, II, III, or IV) or by terms such as “localized,” “regional,” or “distant.” The lower the number or the more localized the cancer, the better a person’s chances of benefiting from treatment and being cured.
The misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can be the difference between life and death for many patients. When diagnosed early, most forms of cancer have a relatively high recovery rate. Conversely, the greater the delay in diagnosis, the more invasive and painful the treatments, and the lower the chances of full recovery.
The effects of a delayed cancer diagnosis can be devastating and may include serious injury, pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of income, and even death.
Some of the most common types of cancer involved in failures to diagnose include:
Breast cancer: Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women. This type of cancer can be very effectively treated during its early stages, but many diagnoses are missed until the cancer has progressed beyond early stages. Unfortunately, the late diagnosis of breast cancer can mean the patient is subjected to a lengthy, painful course of treatment that may result in loss of one or both breasts, or even death of the patient.
Colon cancer: Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. If early symptoms such as rectal bleeding are ignored and the cancer left undiagnosed, the patient’s prognosis can be bleak. However, even in cases where cancer has already developed, early detection still vastly improves the chances of a cure by surgically removing the cancer before the disease spreads to other organs.
Cervical cancer: Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect a woman’s reproductive organs and can easily be detectable by smear tests. The survival rates are quite high if detected in early stages, but errors in screening and misinterpretation of results can cause a failure to diagnose cancer that may lead to infertility or death.
Prostate cancer: Among American men, prostate cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths. The good news is that if prostate cancer is detected early — when it’s still confined to the prostate gland — there is better chance of successful treatment with minimal or short-term side effects. On average, an American man has a 30 percent risk of having prostate cancer in his lifetime, but only a 3 percent risk of dying of the disease.
Lung cancer: Lung cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in men and women (after prostate and breast, respectively), but it is the number one cause of death from cancer each year in both men and women. Prompt attention to symptoms, leading to early diagnosis and treatment can result in a cure for some patients. For others, prompt attention to symptoms can improve the likelihood that treatment can extend their life and relieve many of their symptoms.
Investigating whether or not cancer was diagnosed in a timely manner requires experienced legal assistance and our attorneys and medical staff have a great deal of experience in cancer cases.
If you feel that you or someone you know suffers from a delayed diagnosis of cancer that was caused by the carelessness or negligence of a physician, please contact our firm immediately. Let our experienced staff review your case at no charge. We can assist victims of delayed diagnosis of cancer receive much needed compensation. Our attorneys and medical staff understand that a cancer diagnosis changes the lives of both the victims and their families.