Cancer Misdiagnosis

Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body.

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What is Cancer Misdiagnosis and Why Does it Happen?

Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body. That cell growth can cause symptoms that your doctor should recognize and test for. If your doctor isn’t performing the right tests, asking the right questions, or doing the right examinations, your cancer can be missed in its most treatable and survivable stages.

In general, “Cancer” is the abnormal growth and multiplication of cells in the body. This abnormal cell growth usually has a negative effect on how body systems function. Left untreated, cancer will usually cause tremendous harm and untimely death.

Cancer-GrowrthThe causes of cancer are numerous and the statistics regarding types, incidence and survival are not what we are here to discuss. In fact, if you are looking for medical information about cancer, you should not be looking at a website or blog written by lawyers. Those lawyers are simply trying to obtain “Google authority” by copying cancer statistics from qualified medical researchers so that your online search finds them with the hope that you hire them to sue doctors for you.

If you are interested in the medical science surrounding cancer types, diagnostic modalities, prognosis, survival, treatment, and prevention, please visit the National Cancer Institute. It is an amazing, unbiased and easy to understand source of accurate and up to date information. You can start by watching this video:

 

The reason you should be on OUR website, or reading THIS article, is simple- you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer and you believe the diagnosis should have been made sooner so that you (or they) could have either been cured, obtained better treatment, or had a longer life.

Clients Lives We've Helped Rebuild

mike-video-thumb

He was Misdiagnosed

They took care of me

— Mike F.
Watch His Story
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Her Husband was Misdiagnosed

I felt relaxed with them

— Gail S.
Watch Her Story

Cancer misdiagnosis cases are NOT easy. In order to succeed in obtaining justice for our clients, we have had to take on some of the most famous cancer treatment facilities in the United States; including Johns Hopkins University Hospital, The Mayo Clinic, George Washington University Hospital, Washington Hospital Center, Georgetown University Hospital, and the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, the team of Cancer Misdiagnosis trial lawyers at D’Amore Personal Injury Law all began our careers by representing the same doctors, hospitals and insurance companies we now hold accountable for people just like you. Put simply, we know your enemy and we know how to beat them.

Here's an Example

We recently handled a cancer misdiagnosis case in which a woman’s doctor didn’t schedule her for regular colonoscopies. The doctor was older, and simply didn’t have the procedures in place to make sure his patients stayed on their regular screening schedule. When she became extremely ill, she went to the hospital and it was discovered that she had Stage IV colon cancer. Now, colon cancer is usually slow growing and quite curable if it is discovered early. By the time our client was diagnosed, her cancer was untreatable and she lost her life. Ultimately, we were able to hold the doctor accountable for his negligence and the settlement we forced his insurance company to pay provided financial security for the children that the doctor’s negligence left without a mother. 


Other examples of cancer misdiagnosis we have successfully litigated are: 

  • Failure of a hospital to inform a patient of her positive mammogram results
  • Failure of a pediatrician to order an MRI on an child who lost the ability to walk from a spine tumor
  • Failure of a surgeon to order the correct test to diagnose a young women’s liver cancer 
  • Failure of a surgeon to properly remove all of a patients pancreatic tumor
  • Failure of a doctor to properly recognize and remove a patient’s chest tumor 
  • Failure of a pediatric surgical team to use proper techniques to remove a baby’s liver tumor. 

Symptoms That Lead to Cancer Misdiagnosis (and how to avoid being misdiagnosed)

Okay, so now let’s talk about the symptoms that doctors misdiagnose as being related to other medical problems. If you know these symptoms, you can lower your chances of being a victim of Cancer Misdiagnosis. If you have already been diagnosed, you can think back and see if you were complaining about any of these symptoms to your doctors before your cancer was confirmed.

As cancer grows, it can begin to push onto organs, blood vessels, or nerves, which can cause some pain and discomfort giving signs and symptoms. Cancer can also use up the body’s energy supply, causing fevers, fatigue, and weight loss. The American Cancer Society lists the following  as the most common signs and symptoms of cancer:

  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness that doesn’t get better with sleep
  • Weight loss or gain of 10 pounds or more for no known reason
  • Eating problems such as not feeling hungry, trouble swallowing, belly pain, or nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling or lumps in the body
  • Pain, especially new or with no known reason, that doesn’t go away or gets worse
  • Skin changes such as a lump that bleeds or turns scaly, a new mole, a sore that does not heal, or a yellowish color to the skin or eyes.
  • Cough or hoarseness that does not go away
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising for no known reason
  • Change in bowel habits that doesn’t go away
  • Bladder changes such as pain when passing urine or blood in urine 
  • Fever or nights sweats
  • Headaches
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Mouth changes such as sores, bleeding, pain, or numbness

As you can see, these symptoms are pretty common to many different illnesses. That’s one of the main reasons cancer gets misdiagnosed- doctors just think your symptoms are the signs of something more common. The best way to ensure this does not happen to you is to know your family cancer history! Find out who in your family tree has/had cancer, how old they were when it was diagnosed, and what type of cancer it was/is. Write it down and give it to your doctor. 

Many cancers are genetic- which means there is higher risk of developing them if someone else in your bloodline also has/had one of them. If your doctor is aware of this, he/she will be more suspicious that your symptoms could be the first signs of the cancer instead of something else. That will trigger your doctor to order different tests and get you diagnosed sooner!

Why Does Cancer Misdiagnosis Happen?

Misdiagnosis can happen for several reasons. Generally, it is assumed that the misdiagnosis occurs in the lab where the tissue samples are analyzed. In the same Johns Hopkins study, 400 doctors indicated that cancer misdiagnosis is the fault of pathology departments. When a pathology report is read incorrectly, it could result in a cancer diagnosis for a person who is perfectly healthy, or show a clean bill of health for someone who’s body is filled with cancerous cells.  

Other reasons for Cancer Misdiagnosis are: 

  • Poorly read X-rays, MRIs or CT scans; 
  • Bad follow-up procedures for communicating with patients about test results
  • Doctors failing to order the proper testing 
  • Doctors failing to obtain a detailed family history of Cancer

Which Cancers Are Most Commonly Misdiagnosed?

Cancer misdiagnosis occurs when a patient is incorrectly diagnosed or does not receive a timely cancer diagnosis. Timeliness in providing cancer diagnoses has the potential to prevent metastasis (spreading) and can be the difference between life or death of a patient. 

The most common types of misdiagnosed cancers are:

  • Lymphoma
  • Breast Cancer
  • Sarcomas
  • Melanomas

Lymphoma

Lymphoma is cancer that begins in lymphocytes (T cells or B cells). These are disease-fighting white blood cells that are part of the immune system. In lymphoma, abnormal cells build up in lymph nodes and vessels and in other organs of the body. This cancer is usually diagnosed after a patient presents with swollen lymph nodes. It can be detected by blood tests, and confirmed via a biopsy. However, because the affected lymph nodes may not be palpable, many of these cancers are missed by doctors until it is too late. Therefore,  it is imperative that you tell your doctor if you have any of the symptoms illustrated here.

Signs-of-Lymphoma


Sarcomas

Sarcoma is the general term for a broad group of cancers that begin in the bones and in the soft (also called connective) tissues (soft tissue sarcoma). Soft tissue sarcoma forms in the tissues that connect, support and surround other body structures. This includes muscle, fat, blood vessels, nerves, tendons and the lining of your joints.

Sarcomas

Misdiagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma is common. The reasons for this include, slow-growth, no pain, no palpation due to a deep-seated location, and doctor-associated and socioeconomic factors. Because a substantial proportion of soft tissue sarcomas can grow for a long time without pain, they are often misdiagnosed due to the misguided belief held by many doctors that malignant tumors are painful, grow rapidly, and adhere strongly to adjacent tissues. Therefore, diagnosis of slow growing, highly malignant soft tissue sarcomas gets delayed- which is likely to result in poor outcomes for patients. In order to avoid having a Sarcoma Misdiagnosis it is important to know the symptoms and tell your doctor about them. Signs and symptoms of concern are:

Learn more about medical malpractice in our FREE guide. View Guide
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Melanomas

Melanoma is skin cancer that begins in cells that become melanocytes. These cells are  specialized and create melanin- the chemical that gives skin its color. Below, you can see some examples of abnormal skin pigments/marks that reflect varying types of melanomas. Because these cancers can spread to other organs, their early detection is key to successful treatment. Many doctors fail to perform head to toe skin evaluations at their patients annual physicals. Therefore, you should be acutely aware of any marks like these on your body, and specifically point them out to your doctor for further evaluation.

Skin-Cancer

What Happens in a Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?

First, you will need to select and speak with an experienced Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer. If you would like to learn how to select a lawyer, please watch this video.

 

When you contact the lawyer, please have as many facts available as possible, including: 

  • When you started having symptoms;
  • Who you told; and 
  • What you were told to do about them. 

Also, be ready to discuss how your life has been affected by the diagnosis- what can’t you do anymore- including work, household chores, child care, family responsibilities, hobbies and activities.

If the Cancer Misdiagnosis lawyer decides to accept your case for investigation, you will sign a fee agreement. Most Cancer Misdiagnosis lawyers work on a contingency fee basis- meaning there will be no cost to you unless the lawyer wins money for you. 

VIEW FEE AGREEMENT

Next, your Cancer Misdiagnosis lawyer will order all of your medical records. This will allow him/her to see if there is evidence that will support a medical negligence case. 

After a careful review of your medical records, your cancer misdiagnosis lawyer will decide if there is evidence to support a claim. If so, he/she will have your records reviewed by cancer experts. If the opinions obtained from those experts support a case, a lawsuit will be filed with the goal of obtaining money to compensate you for all of the harms and losses you have suffered because of your cancer misdiagnosis.

 

Damages You Can Collect from a Cancer Misdiagnosis Case

Cancer treatments can be extremely expensive. The estimated national expenses for cancer care in the U.S. in 2018 were $150.8 billion. The cost of care is likely to increase as the population ages, more people develop cancer, and new, and more expensive, treatments are adopted as standards of care. 

As a victim of a cancer misdiagnosis, you will be able to collect all of the costs of your cancer care including:

  • Your Past and Future Medical Expenses 
  • Your Past and Future Lost Wages 
  • Your Past and Future Physical and Emotional Pain and Suffering 
  • The Value of Your Past and Future Lost Household Services

 

Wrongful death damages: If you lost a loved one due to a misdiagnosis, you can claim these wrongful damages which include your loved one’s medical bills, your loss of companionship, and your children’s loss of parental support.

 

Cancer Statistics (you are NOT alone)

The most common cancers are breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectum cancer, melanoma of the skin, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, endometrial cancer, leukemia, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, and liver cancer.

Cancer-Stats

The three most common cancers in women are breast, lung, and colorectal, and they account for about 50% of all new cancer diagnoses in 2020. Prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers account for an estimated 43% of all cancers diagnosed in men in 2020. The cancer mortality rate is higher among men than women (189.5 per 100,000 men and 135.7 per 100,000 women). 

Approximately 39.5% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2015–2017 data). The cancer death rate is 158.3 per 100,000 men and women per year. In 2020, an estimated 16,850 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,730 will die of the disease. 

In the United States, the overall cancer death rate has declined since the early 1990s. As the overall cancer death rate has declined, the number of cancer survivors has increased. As of January 2019, there were an estimated 16.9 million cancer survivors in the U.S. and that number is projected to increase to 22.2 million by 2030. These trends show that progress is being made against the disease, but much work remains. Although rates of smoking, a major cause of cancer, have declined, the rates of other risk factors, such as obesity, have increased in the United States. Also, the US population is aging, and cancer rates increase with age.


Cancer in Maryland

In Maryland there are almost 35,000 estimated new cases in 2022 according to the Maryland Cancer Statistics Center. Of those, there have been approximately 11,000 deaths due to cancer in the state. On average, there are 452 cases per 100,000 residents.

MD-Cancer-Stats

 

Contact D'Amore Personal Injury Law to Discuss Your Cancer Misdiagnosis Case

The harm caused by a doctor’s cancer misdiagnosis can be life-changing. D'Amore Personal Injury Law has a specialized team of Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers ready to analyze your legal claim. We have an experienced team of legal professionals ready to discuss your case, answer your questions, and outline your legal options. Contact us today to arrange your FREE consultation. And remember: there is never any cost to you at D’Amore Personal Injury Law unless we win your case!

Contact Us

If you or a loved one has been injured by someone else’s negligence, contact us immediately.

Baltimore Office

200 E Pratt Street, Suite 4100
Baltimore, MD 21202

Local: 410-324-2000

Fax: 443-782-0700

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Annapolis, MD 21401

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Washington, D.C. 20005

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