Shouldn’t The Doctor Have Diagnosed Cancer Earlier?

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By Dr. Gerald B. Parker, III, M.D., J.D.

According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, there will be an estimated 1.7 million cancer diagnoses in the United States in 2015, and 589,430 people will die from the disease. With numbers like that, it is easy to see why receiving a diagnosis of cancer is one of the most devastating things that can happen to someone. The diagnosis is often met with feelings of fear and helplessness, and patients and their families instinctively turn to their doctors for answers and expert medical treatment. What happens though, when the expert you’ve turned to for help doesn’t perform their job properly?

What Part Does Screening Play in Cancer Diagnosis?

Some types of cancers have specific screening tests that, when done as recommended, are very useful in detecting cancer in its early stages  prior to patients presenting with symptoms. The proper testing and review of results greatly improves the chance of detecting cancer at an early stage with increased likelihood of effective treatment and improved prognosis. These tests are the single most effective way to detect certain types of cancer early and offer the most favorable chance of recovery for patients. Some of those screenings are as follows:

  • Colorectal cancer can be discovered by testing for fecal occult blood, which is the presence of blood in the gastrointestinal tract that is not visible to the eye, and sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy.
  • Prostate cancer screening involves a digital rectal exam and a blood test referred to as the prostate specific antigen.
  • Cervical cancers are detected by examining cells collected from pap smears.
  • Breast cancer is detectable via mammograms.

The key to effective treatment is detecting the cancer as early as possible and regular screenings certainly improve that possibility. However, if the patient has kept up with regularly scheduled screening tests, yet the cancer diagnosis isn’t made until the disease is in later stages, previous screenings may have been evaluated or preformed incorrectly. If that happens, it is important to have the previous tests reevaluated to see if there was something that was missed or done wrong the first time. An example of this is when a colonoscopy to detect colorectal cancer is performed although a patient has not correctly done the preparation for the test. If a doctor fails to suggest another test, and the patient is later diagnosed with colon cancer, the doctor could be found negligent. Mistakes or oversights in preliminary testing can greatly affect the outcome of cancer treatment and endanger the life of the patient.

What Do I Do Now That I Have Been Diagnosed With Cancer?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with advanced stage cancer and previous, regularly scheduled screenings did not detect it, or you repeatedly sought medical help for your symptoms prior to a cancer diagnosis, you may be a victim of negligence, and you may be entitled to compensation. It is important that you seek both legal and medical advice in these cases. Ross Feller Casey has nationally recognized doctor-lawyers on staff to review your medical records and determine if you have a lawsuit.

All cases at Ross Feller Casey are handled on a contingency basis, so there will never be a cost to you unless there is a financial recovery. Please contact us for a free consultation and review of your case.

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