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Cancer is a very serious disease and, according to the World Health Organization,
is one of the leading causes of death throughout the world. Cancer occurs
when old or damaged cells in the body continue to divide and multiply
rather than die. This can result in malignant tumors or other abnormalities
that can interfere with standard body functions. If left untreated, cancer
cells destroy healthy cells and will continue to multiply and spread to
other parts of the body.
Symptoms of cancer vary depending on the specific type of cancer, the location,
and the stage of advancement. For many cancers, there are not early symptoms,
which is why it is important to get regular medical screenings that focus
on prevention and early detection. In some situations, symptoms do not
appear until the cancer has spread and functioning has already been affected.
For many types of cancer, symptoms are caused by pressure from a tumor.
Some common cancers and common symptoms include:
- Bladder Cancer - pain while urinating or bloody urine
- Brain Cancer - headaches or difficulty with memory
- Breast Cancer - breast lumps or discharge from the nipple
- Colorectal Cancer - rectal bleeding
- Endometrial Cancer - abnormal uterine bleeding
- Lung Cancer - shortness of breath or coughing up blood
- Melanoma - unusual moles
- Pancreatic Cancer - jaundice or abdominal pain
- Prostate Cancer - difficulty urinating
Diagnosis & Care
In 2004, there were 186,000 breast cancer diagnoses in women in the United
States; approximately 20% of those women did not survive. An early and
accurate cancer diagnosis is the foundation upon which all subsequent
treatment decisions are based. Errors regarding diagnosis may result in
countless mistakes, ultimately affecting the patient’s prognosis.
Diagnostic errors may cause patients to endure unnecessary treatment or
surgery, deteriorating health due to a delay in diagnosis, anxiety and
distress when treatments are unsuccessful, as well as lost income and
mounting medical costs.
Many forms of cancer have a more positive prognosis when detected and diagnosed
early, before the disease can spread; the majority of treatments are most
effective when caught in the earliest stages. If a physician fails to
detect symptoms that would lead a reasonable doctor to diagnose any type
of cancer, the patient may be deprived of lifesaving treatment. Cancers
that are frequently misdiagnosed include breast, lung, prostate, cervical,
ovarian, and testicular. In order to win a cancer misdiagnosis case, an
individual must prove that cancer should have been detected at an earlier
stage, which would have led to a significantly different and improved outcome.
Expenses related to late-stage treatment options for cancer increase exponentially
the later the cancer is diagnosed. Rigorous cancer treatments like chemotherapy
and radiation can be costly and cause incapacitating side effects. Early
detection not only improves prognosis, it also allows for much less expensive
treatment options. Any delay or misdiagnosis can mean unnecessary treatment
and expenses along with decreased odds of survival. In addition to expenses
directly attributable to medical care, individuals may also have significant
out-of-pocket expenses that may include travel, childcare, loss of earnings,
as well as pain and suffering. Our medical malpractice lawyers at the
Law Offices of Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt have experience with
cancer misdiagnosis cases and may be able to recover compensation for
you and your loved ones; contact us for a free evaluation.
Receiving regular medical care significantly increases a person’s
chances of surviving cancer since early detection and treatment are the
key. Regular and preventative medical care allows your health care provider
to use screening tools such as mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopies,
and fecal occult blood tests. Additionally, regular medical care allows
your health care provider to evaluate and detect early symptoms, assess
future risk for developing cancer, and promptly order diagnostic testing.
When cancer has been diagnosed, the goal of treatment is to bring about
complete remission of the disease, which means that there is no sign of
disease in the body. Generally, treatment plans are individualized depending
on the type of cancer, advancement of the disease, age of the patient,
as well as medical history. The best treatment plans come from a team
of specialists, which might include medical and/or radiation oncologists,
and nurses who specialize in cancer care. Treatment may include some combination
of chemotherapy, dietary counseling, pain medication, clinical trials,
palliative care, physical therapy, radiation, surgery to remove tumors
or growths, and regular follow-up care.
Books & Resources
For more information on cancer misdiagnosis, the following resources are