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.
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:
In advanced stages, uterine cancer can cause all of the above symptoms as well as:
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.
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:
In women with an increased risk of developing uterine cancer, there are a few preventative measures that may reduce their risk, including:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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