Failure to Timely Diagnose Cancer
A cancer diagnosis is devastating news that can affect anyone at any time. The National Cancer Institute estimates that approximately 40.8 percent of men and women in the United States will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime. Additionally, according to the American Cancer Society, about 585,720 Americans will die of cancer of cancer this year—that is more than 1,600 people each day.
Early Cancer Diagnosis Is Key
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, and it accounts for nearly 1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States, as well. Early diagnosis and medical care is critical in the fight to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer.
Cancer can cause a wide variety of signs and symptoms, depending on where it initially started, how large the site is, and how much it has spread (metastasized) to affect other organs, tissues, or parts of the body.
The American Cancer Society has used the mnemonic device C-A-U-T-I-O-N to help identify the seven early signs of many types of cancers. The letters stand for the following:
C – change in bowel or bladder habits;
A – a sore that does not heal;
U – unusual bleeding or discharge;
T – thickening or lump in the breast, testicles, or elsewhere;
I – indigestion or difficulty swallowing;
O – obvious change in the size, color, shape or thickness of a mole, wart, or mouth sore; or
N – nagging cough or hoarseness in voice.
Other possible symptoms that can signal the presence of some types of cancers include:
– Persistent headaches;
– Unexplained weight loss or appetite loss;
– Chronic pain in the bones or other area of the body;
– Ongoing fatigue or tiredness;
– Ongoing nausea or vomiting;
– Ongoing low-grade fever; and
– Repeated infections.
Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms is strongly encouraged to see a physician right away. The American Cancer Society also generally recommends that people over age 20 receive periodic health exams, along with appropriate cancer-related health check-ups. These cancer-related check-ups typically include health counseling and, depending on the person’s age and gender, exams for cancers of the thyroid, mouth, skin, lymph nodes, colon, and reproductive organs, among others.
The type of treatment prescribed for a cancer patient depends on many factors. However, the main types of treatments are:
– Surgery – where the tumor is totally or partially removed;
– Chemotherapy – which involves the use of a drug or drugs to kill cancer cells;
– Radiation therapy – which uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors;
– Hormone therapy – which uses hormones to attach to certain types of cancer cells to slow their growth;
– Stem cell or bone marrow transplants – which can suppress the disease and reduce the possibility of relapse; and
– Immunotherapy – which uses the body’s own resources to fight cancer cells.
If a patient is not timely diagnosed, it can result in a patient needing additional or prolonged treatment. It also may result in a patient not being a good candidate for certain treatments.
Patients who have suffered due to a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer may have a medical malpractice claim. Claims may involve failures to make a correct diagnosis in a timely manner, failure to order appropriate diagnostic tests, failure to properly interpret test results, and failure to order proper and timely treatment.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Fasig & Brooks have more than thirty years of experience helping patients in the Tallahassee area obtain maximum recovery in negligence actions. If you have questions about a possible misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose situation, call us today at (850) 222-3232.