Cancer is the number two killer after heart disease in the United States. A patient’s best chance at surviving cancer is to find it and treat it in the earliest stages, before it has spread throughout the body.
Early Warning Signs of Cancer
Many cancers have early warning signs. Sometimes these are overlooked, because they have not yet become problematic, or because they could have other causes. Warning signs include unusual bleeding or discharge, unusual skin lesions, change in bowel or bladder habits, a lump or thickening in a body part, problems with swallowing or digestion, or hoarseness or coughing. When these signs appear, in many cases the only way to determine definitively whether or not they are caused by cancer is for the doctor to order a biopsy, a sampling of the tissue to determine is cancerous cells are present.
Essential Cancer Screenings and Diagnostic Tests
But many cancers can be identified at an early stage, even before symptoms appear, by routine screening tests, including Pap smear, mammogram, and colonoscopy, and upper endoscopy. Tests for prostate cancer may include prostate-specific antigen (PSA), digitalrectal examination (DRE) and transrectal ultrasound.
A particularly deadly cancer among women that is often missed is ovarian cancer. Three symptoms presenting together are now considered to always call for further testing are frequency of urination, bloating and abdominal discomfort, and feeling of fullness and difficulty finishing a meal. When these appear together, the doctor should order a CA-125 antigen test and transvaginal ultrasound.
Doctors should order these tests routinely according to recommendations from the American Cancer Society and considering the patient’s personal and family medical history.
Is the Failure to Diagnose Cancer Malpractice?
If a doctor has consistently ordered and interpreted all the appropriate screening and diagnostic tests and investigated any unusual symptoms, it may still be possible to miss a cancer diagnosis. If he or she has done everything that a reasonably competent doctor would do, there may not be any malpractice.
On the other hand, if the doctor has failed to order or evaluate routine screening tests and has not followed up when the patient reports persistent symptoms, there may be cause for a malpractice claim against the doctor if a cancer diagnosis is missed and as a result, the cancer has grown or spread and become difficult or impossible to treat successfully.
If you or someone you love has been harmed by a missed cancer diagnosis and want to know if you have a claim for medical malpractice, you should consult and experienced Florida malpractice attorney to have your case evaluated. Don’t delay, Florida law places strict time limits on filing medical malpractice claims.
Jim Dodson has many years of experience helping patients who have suffered serious harm due to medical error. He will evaluate your case without charge or obligation and answer any questions you have. And, depending on the circumstances of your claim, we may co-counsel your case with another medical malpractice attorney.
Contact us online or call us directly at 888.815.6398 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.