When Is a Delayed Uterine Cancer Diagnosis Considered Malpractice?


How To Get Your Free Initial Consultation

To start an evaluation of your case, please complete the form below. The more information you can provide, the better able we will be to determine if we can help you.

We will review the information and let you know by email shortly if we may be able to handle your matter and what the next steps may be.

*This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Every year in America, around 66,000 women are diagnosed with uterine cancer. If diagnosed early, most treatments are successful. However, it’s not unusual for the cancer to be identified only after it’s already spread throughout the body. Once this has happened, the prognosis is usually poor.

What Are The Symptoms Of Uterine Cancer?

Uterine cancer has many symptoms, but they’re frequently attributed to something else before anyone suspects cancer. While 15 to 20 percent of women with uterine cancer don’t experience any symptoms until they’re at an advanced stage, some possible symptoms of early-stage uterine cancer include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Postmenopausal vaginal bleeding
  • Irregular or unusually heavy vaginal bleeding in younger women
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvis

In advanced stages, uterine cancer can cause all of the above symptoms as well as:

  • Intense pain
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia

How Is Uterine Cancer Diagnosed?

While cervical cancer is often detected through a routine Pap smear, the tests for identifying uterine cancer are more complex and uncomfortable for the patient. When assessing for uterine cancer, the doctor uses their hands to probe the uterus for lumps or thickening. If they feel something potentially abnormal, they will perform a vaginal ultrasound to get a better look. They may also perform a D&C (dilation and curettage). This is a procedure where the cervix is dilated, and a tool is used to remove tissue from the uterus. This tissue can be used to make a definitive diagnosis.

Causes And Risk Factors Of Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer screenings are typically not performed on women without symptoms. Still, women who are at an increased risk of developing uterine cancer should be watched more closely and screened if they develop symptoms. Factors that increase a woman’s risk of uterine cancer include:

  • Being over 50 years of age
  • Obesity
  • Taking estrogen, usually used for menopause-related symptoms, without also taking progesterone (another female hormone)
  • Never being pregnant, or a history of difficulty becoming pregnant
  • Taking tamoxifen (a drug prescribed for certain types of breast cancer treatment)
  • Fewer than five periods in a year at any time before the onset of menopause
  • Being menopausal or postmenopausal
  • A diagnosis of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
  • A diagnosis of diabetes
  • A family history of uterine, ovarian, or colon cancer
  • Exposure to carcinogenic chemicals, such as those found in some hair products

In women with an increased risk of developing uterine cancer, there are a few preventative measures that may reduce their risk, including:

  • Taking birth control pills
  • Being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Taking a combination progesterone/estrogen product if hormones are required to help with menopause symptoms

How Dangerous Is Uterine Cancer?

Uterine cancer is often divided into two distinct types: endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. Endometrial cancer is the most common form of uterine cancer, and it develops in the lining of the uterus. Uterine sarcoma develops within the muscle wall of the uterus. It is rare (around 5 to 10 percent of all uterine cancer cases) but tends to be more aggressive and difficult to treat.

Almost 95 percent of people can expect to achieve remission when diagnosed in the earliest stage. If a diagnosis isn’t made until the cancer has spread throughout the body, the survival rate plummets to around 18 percent. Because of this, patients must be evaluated and correctly diagnosed if they present with symptoms, particularly if they have multiple risk factors.

How Can a Misdiagnosis Happen?

The symptoms of uterine cancer overlap with the symptoms of many other conditions, such as uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, some STDs, and Von Willebrand’s disease. Unfortunately, many doctors assume a patient has one of these conditions before investigating further and testing for uterine cancer. This initial misdiagnosis can give the cancer additional time to spread throughout the body, making it harder to treat.

While some misdiagnoses are bound to happen, particularly in patients who actually do have one of the above conditions in addition to uterine cancer, doctors should evaluate all symptomatic patients for risk factors. If at-risk patients indicate that they’re having symptoms that aren’t normal for them, a transvaginal ultrasound and/or biopsy should be done to rule out uterine cancer.

Does a Misdiagnosis Mean There Was Malpractice?

Women with no risk factors and minimal symptoms, along with those who already have a verified diagnosis that mimics the symptoms of uterine cancer, will often not be diagnosed until their cancer has spread. These cases are usually not foreseeable or preventable. However, in patients who have one or more risk factors and present with classic symptoms of early uterine cancer, further testing should be done. When a doctor ignores the proper standard of care and does not perform standard recommended diagnostic testing, they may have committed medical malpractice.

Why Choose Ross Feller Casey?

If you or a loved one was misdiagnosed, or a uterine cancer diagnosis was delayed due to a doctor’s negligence, then you could be entitled to compensation. The legal team at Ross Feller Casey has an unmatched record of success in winning cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Our team of attorneys and Ivy League-trained doctors are ready to fight for you, and we work on a contingency basis, so there’s no cost to you unless you win your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Kyle A. Jacobsen joined Ross Feller Casey in February 2021 and focuses his practice on representing clients who suffered catastrophic injuries due to medical malpractice, defective products, and dangerous premises.

Kyle Jacobsen

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.