Cancer misdiagnosis is a very serious problem in the American healthcare system. A study in the medical journal Cancer indicates that about 12 percent of cancer patients in the United States are initially misdiagnosed. The term “cancer misdiagnosis” can mean that:
- someone who has cancer is tested and the misdiagnosis is that there is no cancer
- someone who does not have cancer is tested and the misdiagnosis is that he or she does have cancer
- someone’s cancer is misdiagnosed as the incorrect type or stage of cancer
How Cancer Misdiagnoses Happen
Cancer misdiagnosis can occur in many different ways and for several different reasons:
- A biopsy procedure misses a cancerous lesion
- A malignant (cancerous) mass is misdiagnosed as benign (non-cancerous)
- A benign tumor is diagnosed as malignant
- The type, stage, aggressiveness, or grade of a tumor is misclassified
- Tissue or tumor specimens are mishandled, misread, or misinterpreted by a pathology lab
- A physician fails to refer a patient to a specialist for further testing
- No follow-up is done for a patient although cancer should have been suspected
- A patient with greater-than-normal cancer risk is not screened for cancer
- Healthcare professionals fail to note the nature or seriousness of a patient’s symptoms or complaints
Unnecessary Treatment or Missed Treatment
Cancer misdiagnosis may be due to a lab mistake or a physician or specialist’s error. Patients who receive a cancer misdiagnosis that wrongly identified cancer where there was none may undergo unnecessary, painful, and harmful treatment. Patients who do have cancer that is missed or misinterpreted may not receive the treatment they need, or treatment at an earlier stage that would have greatly increased their chances of survival.
The impact of a cancer misdiagnosis on a patient and his or her family can be devastating. Recovering from the shock of cancer misdiagnosis is the first step, but the question of what to do next looms. It can be very helpful to speak with medical malpractice experts since they’ve handled many similar cases already. Law firms that specialize in medical malpractice can explain the legal remedies that are available for individuals and families who have been impacted by a cancer misdiagnosis.
Contact a Cancer Misdiagnosis Law Firm
You may be eligible for monetary compensation for losses such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of a loved one. Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your area today to discuss your cancer misdiagnosis case, and learn more about your legal rights.