Can Doctors Miss a Cancer Diagnosis? Failure to Diagnose Cancer

oncology lab results after failure to diagnose cancer
Tags cancer, delayed diagnosis, medical malpractice, medical malpractice lawyer, medical negligence, misdiagnosis, oncology, standard of care, wrongful death

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The medical field is a complicated, ever-changing landscape. This means that even doctors that are well-qualified and educated can make mistakes or miss something, errors known as medical malpractice. After all, doctors are human too. Sometimes, mistakes are easily fixed and forgivable, but when it comes to cancer diagnosis and treatment, no stone should be left unturned. It’s why the failure to diagnose cancer is such a devastating issue for those it affects.

Many cancers are treatable or even curable if caught early, but become increasingly more difficult to treat as time goes on.

Catching cancer early could be the difference between life and death.

It’s why doctors recommend regular mammograms for women over the age of 50, among other regular cancer screenings.

It’s also why doctors are trained to catch the signs of cancer early.

x-ray showing tumor in lung

How Common is Misdiagnosis of Cancer?

It is estimated that 10% to 20% of all cancer cases are misdiagnosed. One study even found that about 28% of the mistakes made in 583 cases were life threatening or life altering.

At least 40,000 cancer patients die each year as a result of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. Many cases of misdiagnosis go unreported, so the statistics surrounding cancer misdiagnosis are rough estimates based on the number of cases that are reported.

Given these statistics, it’s sadly all too common for cancer to go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

What Happens if Cancer is Diagnosed Late?

A late diagnosis of cancer can mean many different things. Sometimes, the cancer can still be effectively treated, but in other cases, the diagnosis comes too late for treatment.

Since we are a law firm, and not medical professionals, we cannot speak to how a misdiagnosis may affect an individual patient, but we can help you if your doctor failed to properly diagnose your cancer.

Cancer misdiagnosis can be the result of medical negligence. Medical negligence occurs when a doctor or medical professional does not properly fulfill their duties as a practitioner. These duties are known as the standard of care.

As an example, you would be the victim of medical negligence if you went for a routine mammogram, the mammogram showed possible signs of a tumor, and the doctor or technician responsible for examining your results did not take further action to investigate these signs.

Medical negligence is usually not this clear-cut, which is why it often takes the help of a medical malpractice lawyer to prove medical negligence in court. Your lawyer will help you prove that your doctor did not act reasonably in these circumstances.

doctor shrugging at patient while showing patient their radiology reports

Investigating Failure to Diagnose Cancer

Cancer patients who experience failure to diagnose will often learn of this failure through another medical professional.

If you feel like your symptoms do not align with your doctor’s diagnosis, you should contact another medical professional for a second opinion.

A medical malpractice lawyer can help you investigate the causes of your misdiagnosis and determine if there was indeed medical negligence.

Your medical malpractice attorney will look for evidence that your cancer was identifiable and that your delayed diagnosis was due to doctors failing to uphold their standard of care.

If you are in need of a medical malpractice lawyer to assist you in your medical negligence case, the attorneys at Merson Law PLLC can help you.

Call our office today or fill out the contact form on this page to get started with your case and to speak with our in-house physician.

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