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), digital rectal 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.
Do You Think You May Have A Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you believe you may have a Florida medical malpractice claim you need to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, in order to comply with Florida’s pre-suit investigation requirements, and the strict time limits involved. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.815.6398 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Even if we are unable to take on your case, we always do our best to suggest other attorneys who can assist you.
It's important to keep in mind, in order to have a solid medical malpractice claim your doctor or surgeon must have been negligent in performing their services or diagnosis. Not every case will qualify as medical malpractice.