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Misdiagnosis of Cancer: Why It Happens

doctor giving patient diagnosis

Cancer is a disease characterized by out-of-control cell growth. It can happen anywhere in the body and spread rapidly. Due to the nature of the disease being able to thrive within the body, a patient’s symptoms can vary, and the diagnosis is based on a multitude of things, such as blood analyses and biopsies.

Cancer is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases in the medical field and can have very harmful effects on a patient. In cancer misdiagnosis cases, patients don’t end up getting the proper treatment. Because of this, their condition might worsen or lead to a lost life.

On the other hand, when a disease is misdiagnosed as cancer, a patient may experience not only painful methods of treating cancer but also emotional distress and financial stress. In addition, the undiagnosed disease may worsen over time, which will lead to more severe health complications.

A cancer diagnosis is very serious and in most cases, it can be life-threatening. Health care professionals should be able to not only quickly diagnose such a disease but must also do it accurately in order for patients to get the right medical treatment. 

What Is Cancer Misdiagnosis?

Cancer misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional does not diagnose your medical condition properly. Because of this, you will not get the right treatment, or no treatment will occur. Cancer misdiagnosis usually happens when:

  • A doctor diagnoses you with the cancer
  • A doctor diagnoses you with a health condition you do not have
  • A doctor fails to detect a health condition

There are also cases where these medical professionals might assume that a tumor is not cancerous, which will eventually cause the cancer to metastasize and aggressive treatments will be necessary.

Another way healthcare professionals can be negligent is by reading the diagnostic tests wrong, which causes them to not properly detect the cancer. Because of this, it can take years before a proper cancer diagnosis is done, and only then will the patients find out that they already have late-stage cancer.

Cancer misdiagnosis can have very substantial impacts:

  • Worsening medical condition
  • Delay in the correct diagnosis during cancer’s early stages
  • Treatments that cause injury or even death

A lot of patients only discover that they have been misdiagnosed when they realize that treatment is not improving their health. Because of this, they look for a second opinion on their medical condition.

Medical professionals that are able to provide a second opinion are usually medical experts who run more tests and apply more specialized knowledge. However, once you learn that a doctor has misdiagnosed you, you’ll need additional treatment and you may even consider a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit.

Why Is Cancer Misdiagnosed?

One of the most difficult things about cancer is that it can be very hard to diagnose. There are many different types of cancer, and symptoms can vary widely from one person to the next. In addition, some cancers can mimic the symptoms of other diseases. As a result, misdiagnosis is a surprisingly common occurrence.

Some of the most common types of misdiagnosis were breast cancer, followed by lung cancer and colon cancer. Misdiagnosis can occur for a variety of reasons, including overreliance on imaging tests, failure to consider all possible causes of symptoms, and simple human error.

Regardless of the cause, misdiagnosis can have serious consequences for patients. delays in treatment can allow cancer to spread and become more difficult to treat. In some cases, misdiagnosis can even be life-threatening. As such, it is important for doctors to be aware of the potential for misdiagnosis and to take steps to reduce the risk. Here are a few reasons why cancer can be misdiagnosed.

Lack of Appropriate Testing

A cancer misdiagnosis often occurs when cancer is not diagnosed early due to the doctor not running the necessary tests. This is also referred to as a failure to diagnose.

Failure to diagnose means that healthcare providers ignored the pieces of evidence present or he or she missed that something was wrong.

This happens when the doctor does not run the appropriate tests and also overlooks the results of tests done. In a situation where other medical professionals could have provided the proper diagnosis, this is considered medical malpractice and is a very serious medical mistake.

Carelessness and negligence can result in cancer misdiagnosis. This can include:

  • Ignoring patient requests to check moles, bumps, or lumps
  • Ignoring patient complaints about symptoms
  • Not requesting the proper tests, including MRIs, CT Scans, and biopsies
  • Ordering the wrong tests
  • Failing to properly administer tests
  • Mixing up patient files or test results
  • Tissue samples becoming contaminated
  • Misreading or reviewing test results

Lack of Information

In a 2013 study by Best Doctors and the National Coalition on Health Care, a cancer misdiagnosis survey was conducted with 400 doctors. Their responses indicated that they believed cancer misdiagnosis happens because of the pathology department and the lack of resources in this department. A misread sample or test can result in cancer misdiagnosis for a patient. 

The survey also indicated that these doctors felt that there is a lack of information throughout the medical systems to diagnose cancer. This can range from a lack of communication between patients and their families all the way to incomplete or flawed electronic medical records (EMRs).

Similarity of Symptoms

Cancer can also be misdiagnosed due to the similarity of symptoms along with the lack of knowledge that causes the symptoms. For example, endometriosis and ovarian cancer produce similar symptoms as both conditions cause diarrhea, severe pelvic pain, constipation, irregular menstrual bleeding, and infertility. When doctors are not able to properly identify the right evidence supporting one condition over another, a misdiagnosis is probable.

For patients who have been misdiagnosed with cancer, seeking a second opinion is one solution that you can opt for. You can have your tests or slides examined by another pathologist. This is especially useful if you have doubts about your initial diagnosis.

Failure To Properly Follow Up

A cancer misdiagnosis can happen when a doctor does not have the proper knowledge to make a correct diagnosis, or when a patient does not follow up properly with their care. In either case, it is important to get a second opinion if you have any doubts about your diagnosis.

Cancer is a serious disease, and it is vital to make sure that you are getting the best possible treatment. If you are diagnosed with cancer, be sure to ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and make sure that you understand all of the risks and benefits involved. It is also important to follow up with your doctor regularly and get regular screenings, as this can help to catch any changes in your condition early. By taking these precautions, you can help to ensure that you receive the best possible care and treatment for your cancer.

However, if your doctor fails to provide the proper follow-up care, this may be considered medical malpractice. As a doctor, they have a duty of care to their patients, and following up with their patients is part of their care. If they fail to do so, they may fail to diagnose or treat your cancer in a timely manner.

Contact the Pagan Law Firm today to see if you have a valid medical malpractice claim.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Types of Cancer

Different forms of cancer are tackled with different forms of standards. With this, certain cancers are harder to identify as compared to others. This is why increased vigilance is a must for our trusted healthcare professionals.

Cancer misdiagnosis is very crucial but it can be treatable if caught early. The following are the most commonly misdiagnosed types of cancer:

  • Lymphoma: The common symptoms of this type of cancer are mainly fatigue, night sweats, and weight loss. What’s scary about this is that these symptoms are common in less dangerous health conditions. However, it can be distinguished through enlarged lymph nodes that can still develop with cases of the flu and cold. Because of this, a lot of doctors make cancer misdiagnoses and prescribe medication that does not treat cancer.
  • Breast cancer: This form of cancer is overdiagnosed and also underdiagnosed. A lot of medical experts miss the results from the medical facilities’ mammograms or biopsies. There are even times when benign conditions such as breast cysts are a result of cancer misdiagnosis and patients have to face aggressive treatment.
  • Colon cancer: A colonoscopy is used to detect and prevent this type of cancer. When doctors find polyps during an examination, they can do a biopsy or remove them immediately. This procedure helps keep precancerous tumors from becoming life-threatening. However, medical malpractice may occur if the doctor does not do the colonoscopy properly and they might miss out on the polyps where a patient can develop cancer.
  • Lung cancer: A lot of patients don’t realize they have lung cancer until it’s too late. This is due to the fact that cancer cells form slowly and produce the same symptoms as asthma or Cryptogenic Organizing Pneumonia (COP). While this type of cancer isn’t deadly at first, with a survival rate of 73 to 90 percent, it starts to get deadly in the later stages, and survival rates drop down to less than 10 percent at stage IV.

While some forms of cancer did not make it into the list, prostate and pancreatic cancer are also vulnerable to cancer misdiagnosis. It is really hard to diagnose these types of cancer and medical malpractice might occur. A cancer misdiagnosis might even result in wrongful death.

Since medical malpractice and cancer misdiagnosis is so common, it’s best that you always get a second opinion if possible. Even if you think that your doctor is providing you with the right results, it never hurts to consult another medical professional. This is especially necessary if treatments didn’t work out before or you have a chronic condition.

Common Forms of Cancer Misdiagnosis

There are numerous ways in which healthcare providers can be involved in medical malpractice cases because of cancer misdiagnosis. 

  • False positive: This is the most common form of medical malpractice as it is mistakenly identifying one disease for another. There are also rare times when doctors diagnose healthy patients with a condition that they don’t have. There could also be an error within the testing laboratory and they give the wrong test results to the wrong patient which prevents them from getting a timely diagnosis.
  • False negative: This is the opposite of a false positive and a cancer misdiagnosis happens when a patient with cancer is marked as healthy. This gives patients a false sense of security thinking that nothing is wrong when in reality, their cancer is already growing and becoming worse. This is very common in delayed diagnosis cases.
  • Failure to identify an underlying condition: There are some underlying conditions with cancer, such as an undetected tumor. Not addressing this results in cancer becoming worse and the patient experiencing life-threatening consequences. It is also important to note that not addressing this in the early stages will make cancer treatment plans less effective in the later stages.
  • Failure to diagnose the subtype: Knowing what type of cancer a patient has is very crucial for treatment. Confusing a form of cancer with another will lead to the wrong treatment and might even make things worse for the patient.

Difference Between Negligence and Medical Malpractice for a Medical Professional

Cancer misdiagnosis falls under the medical malpractice and negligence theory. While they are similar and sometimes overlap each other, there are differences between the two.

Medical malpractice is a special type of negligence that occurs when a health care professional provides sub-standard care to a patient, resulting in injury or even death. There are three main elements to a medical malpractice case: duty, breach, and causation. Duty is the legal obligation to provide reasonable care. Breach means that the health care professional failed to meet the standard of care. Causation means that the breach of duty caused harm to the patient. In order to win a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must prove all three of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence.

While negligence simply requires proving that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care, medical malpractice cases are often more complicated because they require expert testimony to establish the appropriate standard of care. In addition, causation can be difficult to establish in cases where the harm was caused by an underlying medical condition that was not due to any negligence on the part of the health care professional. As a result, medical malpractice cases can be complex and expensive to litigate. However, if you have been injured as a result of sub-standard medical care, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options.

Legal Representation After a Failure To Diagnose Cancer

Cancer is a very serious medical condition and shouldn’t be taken lightly. With medical technology advancing throughout the years, the chances of beating cancer have also increased. This is why it is important that healthcare professionals are able to detect cancer early. This is the key way of fighting it and healthcare professionals should provide the proper screening, testing, and treatment. When a cancer misdiagnosis happens, it can be very devastating.

If you or someone you know has suffered from cancer misdiagnosis, it is important to speak up about it. The chances of your doctor detecting cancer sooner are possible and they should have given you more time to fight it.

If you’re in New York City, contact The Pagan Law Firm to speak with a cancer misdiagnosis lawyer or a medical malpractice attorney that will help you file your injury claim. 

How Long Do I Have To File a Claim?

There is a deadline for every injury claim and knowing how long you have is important. Missing this deadline can lose you the right to file a lawsuit against the person or people at fault.

When it comes to medical malpractice claims, patients who have experienced cancer misdiagnosis in New York City have up to two and a half years or 30 months from the time that they received their misdiagnosis. 

For those worried about the time needed when addressing claims, the New York State Department passed a law called Lavern’s Law. Under this law, it states that the new start date for claims is the discovery date of the misdiagnosis. This can help you to have enough time to address your claims.

It is also important to note that when filing malpractice claims, you need the time to review your medical records, negotiate with the insurance company of the party at fault, and finally, prepare for a trial.

Contact Experienced NY Medical Malpractice Attorneys

If you’re looking for New York cancer misdiagnosis lawyers, then The Pagan Law Firm can get you the help you need. We have the best New York City cancer misdiagnosis attorneys that you can find.

Call now on (212-967-8202) and get a free consultation today! If you want to learn more about us, you can browse our site here