Failure to Diagnose Cancer

Failure to diagnose cancer includes misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis. A diagnosis of cancer is frightening and serious, but medicine has come a long way in successfully treating many types of cancer. No matter what type of cancer you have, early detection and treatment can improve the outcome. With many types of cancer, catching it in the earliest stages can actually give you a chance at a full recovery. Failure to diagnose cancer is a form of medical malpractice.

How Cancer is Overlooked

Cancer screening has become a basic part of routine checkups. Detection is possible long before cancer symptoms appear, in most cases, because doctors now know at what age to start routine testing, and which risk factors to be on the lookout for in order to recommend early or more frequent testing for high risk patients. Occasionally, patients will even go to the doctor specifically because they are experiencing cancer symptoms. Failure to diagnose cancer can be the result of several different errors including:

  • Failure to listen to the patient – dismissing, failing to understand the significance of, or choosing not to respond to symptoms reported by the patient
  • Failure to recognize or respond to risk factors
  • Failure to recognize or respond to early warning signs
  • Choosing not to order or recommend tests due to financial concerns
  • Improper blood and tissue sampling
  • Improper reading of tests
  • Failure to follow up with patient

Consequences of Failure to Diagnose Cancer

A delayed cancer diagnosis can be deadly. Misdiagnosis can lead to a combination of failure to treat the cancer and the administration of unnecessary treatments for a condition or disease that you do not even have. Those who survive a delayed cancer diagnosis will need more aggressive treatments, meaning more pain, more expense, and more damage to their health by the advanced cancer and by the treatments themselves.

Certain types of cancer respond very well to timely treatment, but can be fatal when treatment is delayed. These include:

  • Skin cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Cervical cancer

Consequences of a delayed diagnosis of any type of cancer can include:

  • More aggressive treatment
  • More invasive treatment
  • Significantly more pain
  • Disfigurement
  • Significantly more financial cost both in treatments, in time lost from work, and sometimes time lost from work for loved ones, as well as travel to special cancer treatment centers
  • Long term disability
  • Unnecessary damage to your overall health from the cancer itself and from the treatments
  • Shortened lifespan
  • Emotional distress

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