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Cancer Misdiagnosis

The attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm handle medical malpractice cases involving Cancer Misdiagnosis. The failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of cancer can be the basis for a claim of medical malpractice or medical negligence. If you have experienced a Cancer Misdiagnosis during the course of your medical treatment it is in your benefit to seek out more information about bringing a legal claim. Information on what Cancer Misdiagnosis is and what it might mean for you can be found below. Additionally, the medical malpractice attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm invite you to contact us directly, either at 937-228-2306 or 1-800-VERDICT to discuss your potential claim.

What is Cancer?

Cancer refers to a large number of diseases which can be found in various parts of the human body and which cause various problems. Cancer, as a disease, is caused by abnormal cell growth, which is the creation of new cells in a manner that is not normal for the body. This growth creates neoplasms or tumors. The primary danger of cancer is that this growth can become invasive and take the place of normal cells spreading the disease to other parts of the body.         

Causes of Cancer

Cancer can be caused by a variety of factors, though all fall into two primary categories: environmental factors and inherited genetics. The vast majority of cancer cases are due to environmental factors, likely somewhere between 90-95%. Environmental factors are anything that isn’t inherited genetically. The remaining 5-10% of cancer cases are due to inherited genetics.

  • Chemotherapy – This treatment involves the introduction of anti-cancer drugs into the blood stream. The drugs target the cancer cells by preventing cell division and additional growth. Chemotherapy may be curative for some cancers, but ineffective for others.
  • Radiation Therapy – This treatment involves the use of beams of radiation, aimed and targeted at the cancer tissue in the body. The radiation damages the DNA of the cancer tissue, thus killing it. It is important to ensure the cancer tissue is being targeted, so as to prevent excess damage to normal tissue which may surround the cancer. Radiation Therapy may be curative or may be used to improve symptoms.
  • Surgery – Surgery can be used to remove solid cancer tissue. Sometimes, the entire cancer mass can be removed. For some types of cancer, this may be enough to eliminate the cancer all together.
  • Palliative Care – This refers to any treatment intended to help the patient feel better. It is often combined with the other treatment types to create a complete treatment plan. The goal of Palliative Care is to improve quality of life.
  • Immunotherapy – This treatment involves stimulating or assisting the immune system in its effort to fight the cancer. It may use antibodies, checkpoint therapy, and adoptive cell transfer. It has grown in use in recent years, though more research is still ongoing.
  • Alternative Medicine – This refers to any form of treatment or medicine that is not part of conventional medicine. It may include the use of herbs, diets, exercise, or devices. The use of alternative medicine is discouraged by many government agencies and medical professionals.

Prevention of Cancer

Prevention of cancer refers to measures taken to reduce the risk of acquiring cancer. Because a majority of cancer cases are caused by environmental risk factors, it is likely that avoiding those factors may reduce the risk of cancer. Many environmental factors are lifestyle choices, which can be controlled. Factors such as tobacco, alcohol, obesity, insufficient diet, lack of exercise, and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases all increase the risk of cancer and are all avoidable.

Of course, some risk factors are not controllable, such as background radiation that is naturally occurring and cancers caused through hereditary genetic disorders.

Some research and studies have been conducted to test whether medication may be able to prevent cancer. There is some evidence to indicate that risk of certain cancers may be reduced by certain drugs. However, these results are not definitive.

Some vaccines may also reduce the risk of certain cancers, especially cancers caused by infection. For example, the HPV vaccine decreases the risk of developing cervical cancer and the Hepatitis B vaccine prevents infection of the Hepatitis B virus, thus reducing the risk of liver cancer. These vaccines may be recommended by a doctor for certain individuals.

Discovery of Cancer

Most cancer is discovered due to the appearance of symptoms and medicals signs. A common example would be the discovery of an unusual lump during a breast examination. Doctors may also find symptoms during routine checkups or physicals that may suggest the presence of cancer. Oftentimes, additional testing is required to verify those symptoms.

Cancer screening is also sometimes used in order to discovery cancer. Cancer screening refers to any effort to discover or detect cancer before noticeable symptoms have appeared. This often involves tests such as blood tests, urine tests, medical imaging such as x-rays, or even whole body imaging such as CT scans. Screening is often performed for patients who may be at a higher risk for cancer due to various factors.

However, the practice of cancer screening has been exposed to some controversy. One reason for this is because not all cancers can be screened for. Additionally, even when screening is available, it may not be recommended for everyone. Universal screening may be performed, which means screening everyone, often within a specific age group. Selective screening attempts to identify those who are at a higher risk, such as people with a family history for a certain cancer. Finally, there is some debate about the potential for cancer screening to do more harm than good. Because symptoms of cancer have not appeared, testing may actually expose patients to harm, or results may be false positives or ineffective.

Treatment of Cancer

Cancer is difficult to treat, and treatment may or may not be curative. If treatment is not intended to cure the cancer, then it is often used to help manage the cancer, reduce symptoms, or prolong life. Which treatment options are used depends on the type of cancer, the location and grade of the cancer, as well as factors such as the patient’s health and preferences.

Listed below are some potential cancer treatment options.

  • Chemotherapy – This treatment involves the introduction of anti-cancer drugs into the blood stream. The drugs target the cancer cells by preventing cell division and additional growth. Chemotherapy may be curative for some cancers, but ineffective for others.
  • Radiation Therapy – This treatment involves the use of beams of radiation, aimed and targeted at the cancer tissue in the body. The radiation damages the DNA of the cancer tissue, thus killing it. It is important to ensure the cancer tissue is being targeted, so as to prevent excess damage to normal tissue which may surround the cancer. Radiation Therapy may be curative or may be used to improve symptoms.
  • Surgery – Surgery can be used to remove solid cancer tissue. Sometimes, the entire cancer mass can be removed. For some types of cancer, this may be enough to eliminate the cancer all together.
  • Palliative Care – This refers to any treatment intended to help the patient feel better. It is often combined with the other treatment types to create a complete treatment plan. The goal of Palliative Care is to improve quality of life.
  • Immunotherapy – This treatment involves stimulating or assisting the immune system in its effort to fight the cancer. It may use antibodies, checkpoint therapy, and adoptive cell transfer. It has grown in use in recent years, though more research is still ongoing.
  • Alternative Medicine – This refers to any form of treatment or medicine that is not part of conventional medicine. It may include the use of herbs, diets, exercise, or devices. The use of alternative medicine is discouraged by many government agencies and medical professionals.

What is Cancer Misdiagnosis?

Cancer Misdiagnosis is when a doctor or medical professional gives an incorrect diagnosis in regards to cancer; either by failing to discover and diagnose cancer that is present or by diagnosing the wrong type of cancer.

Misdiagnosis is a serious problem. If the conditions of a disease are not diagnosed or diagnosed properly, then that disease cannot be properly treated. Without proper treatment, the condition may worsen. Additionally, giving a patient treatment for the wrong disease may cause them harm that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred. These issues are especially problematic with a disease as severe and as varied as cancer.

Cancer is a particularly difficult disease, and treatment for it can be difficult as well. Cancer treatment is most effective when it is administered in the early stages of cancer. This early treatment relies on early diagnosis. Failure to detect cancer early enough may lead to a delay in treatment, treatment which otherwise may have been effective. Additionally, cancer treatment at later stages of cancer is more dangerous for the patient. The longer cancer goes untreated, the more unmanageable it becomes. The best chances to beat cancer come from early detection and early treatment.

Similarly, failure to diagnose the correct type of cancer may lead to treatment being administered that is incorrect for the actual type of cancer the patient has. This may lead to additional problems, and can cause harm to the patient.

In some instances, a patient may be diagnosed with cancer when they do not have cancer at all. This may lead to a patient receiving cancer treatments such as radiation therapy or surgery that were completely unnecessary.

Some examples of misdiagnoses include the following.

  • Failing to properly diagnose a cancer that exists within the patient
  • Failing to properly diagnose the type of cancer
  • Failing to properly monitor the patient
  • Failing to perform proper screening tests, especially in those at higher risk of cancer due to family history, life choice habits, or genetics
  • Errors in the laboratory, including mix-ups in samples or test results
  • Improperly interpreting or misreading x-rays, mammograms, CT scans, or other test results

Types of common cancer misdiagnoses include:

  • Cervical Cancer – Generally considered to be preventable because pre-cancer changes can be discovered by regular pap smears, which are part of routine pelvic examinations.
  • Colon Cancer – A source of a high number of cancer deaths, in which failure to diagnose often plays a part.
  • Lung Cancer – A type of cancer commonly found with tobacco users, it carries a number of potential symptoms that can aid in a diagnosis
  • Prostate Cancer – Early detection is possible for this type of cancer, both due to test and targeted screening
  • Breast Cancer – Increased awareness and the normalization of the breast examination should put this type of cancer on a doctor’s radar

Not receiving treatment for a condition that a patient has, as well as receiving treatment for a condition that the patient does not have, is often detrimental to that patient’s health. In some cases, it may be that receiving no treatment at all would have been better.

Medical and Legal Significance of a Cancer Misdiagnosis

Cancer Misdiagnosis may be caused by medical malpractice or medical negligence. This is not true in all cases. In some cases, a doctor may identify appropriate risk factors, conduct all the proper tests, correctly analyze the results, and still not discover or diagnose a cancer. Like many areas of medicine, cancer and cancer treatment is still being researched, developed, and advanced.

However, some instances of Cancer Misdiagnosis which could have been avoided can be attributed to medical malpractice or medical negligence. There are many risk factors that can increase the chance of cancer. It is important for doctors and other medical professionals to observe those risk factors and analyze and react to them in a proper manner. The presence of risk factors may warrant cancer screening or other regular tests, in order to try and detect cancer as early as possible. Failure to monitor and address those risk factors may cause a failure to diagnose, delay in diagnosis or a misdiagnosis.

In diagnosing a patient with cancer, it is also important to get the diagnosis as correct as possible. Treatment of cancer requires a precise diagnosis in order to ensure that the treatment plan is appropriate for the individual patient. Doctors and medical professionals must be sure to perform all tests and procedures in the proper fashion in order to have the most accurate and complete diagnosis possible. Failure to do so may result in cancer misdiagnosis, as well as improper treatment. This can cause harm or injury that would have otherwise been avoidable.

It is the responsibility of doctors and other medical professionals to respond to the possibility of cancer in the correct manner and with the most correct diagnosis possible. Failure to do so may be medical malpractice or medical negligence.

Seeking Legal Counsel and Guidance

The medical malpractice attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm have the skill and experience to discover whether you have a claim for Cancer Misdiagnosis. Medical malpractice and medical negligence is preventable. It is caused by the error, improper action, or lack of action by medical professionals. It is important to hold those medical professionals to the proper standards of medical care and to hold them accountable for the harms and losses they cause. The Brannon Law Firm can help hold those at fault accountable.

Additionally, your treatment may be difficult, both financially and emotionally. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation treatment are harsh and damaging. The consequences of cancer treatment as a result of Cancer Misdiagnosis can be severe and long lasting, requiring additional medical treatment, loss of quality of life, loss of income and costly medical bills. It is important to ensure you have the assistance and care that you deserve to live the best life possible. The Brannon Law Firm can help with that process.

At the Brannon Law Firm, we have represented many individuals who were unfortunate victims of a Cancer Misdiagnosis. We have obtained favorable verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients in Cancer Misdiagnosis cases. We invite you to contact us, either at 937-228-2306 or 1-800-VERDICT for a free consultation to see how we can help.