Cancer is a constellation of many diseases with different causes and different outcomes. Cancer can occur anywhere in the body as a result of the abnormal proliferation of cancerous cells which, depending on their type, either can be cured or will lead to death. The key in any type of cancer is early diagnosis and treatment.
The treatment for various cancers has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. In turn, this has greatly changed the survivability for some types of cancer, such as breast cancer and some types of lung cancer. Diagnostic tests leading to earlier diagnosis, such as colon cancer, have also increased overall survivability.
Determining Negligence In Diagnosis
Cancers may develop from environmental factors, such as smoking or carcinogenic foods. Some people have a genetic predisposition to certain cancers. But many times, the cause of cancers is unknown and there is family history or known risk factors.
Since doctors are not the cause of cancer, the focus of any malpractice or negligence claim involving cancer is usually focused on the delay in making the correct diagnosis. After diagnosis, most cancers are then treated, and the outcome is a result of the type and stage of cancer at diagnosis. Cancers treated at a lower stage may have a much higher rate of survival. Some cancers (such as ovarian or pancreatic) have a poor survival rate regardless of when they are diagnosed.
Holding Doctors Accountable
Establishing a claim for medical malpractice requires evidence that the client was deprived of a chance for a better outcome had the cancer been diagnosed at an earlier stage. The evidence may center on errors of primary care doctors, oncologists or radiologists relating to office visits, reported symptoms and diagnostic tests. It may center on delayed treatment or inappropriate treatments that were not consistent with standard protocols for that type and stage of cancer.
We also handle cases in which clients were harmed by cancer misdiagnosis, such as a false positive leading to unnecessary surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
Please contact a lawyer at Goethel Engelhardt, PLLC, to determine if you have a case for medical malpractice. We can be reached by phone at 734-545-8421 or through our convenient online contact form.