Medical Negligence: Commonly Misdiagnosed Cancers

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It’s vital to diagnose illnesses and diseases as quickly as possible to ensure a higher and faster recovery. Cancer is one of those important diagnosis that need to be swift and addressed quickly, as the earlier it’s detected and treated the less chance it has of spreading or returning.

Medical negligence or private care related, are always stressful occurrences, especially with such a serious illness as cancer. This can be a devastating diagnosis, and you may be able to make a claim if your cancer was diagnosed later than it should have been or if it was misdiagnosed.

What is a Misdiagnosis?

When a qualified doctor and other medical staff provide you with either a delayed or an incorrect diagnosis, this error can lead to needed treatment being delayed or applied incorrectly, or even result in no treatment at all.

A simple misdiagnosis, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that medical negligence occurred. You have to establish three factors, as a patient, so you can make a claim, as the law doesn’t hold doctors responsible for all diagnosis errors:

  • Medical negligence by the doctor and/or the medical staff caused you injury.
  • The doctor who attended to you was negligent, failing to provide you with skillful, competent, and reasonable treatment.
  • You had a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor in question.

There are a few types of cancer that are often more commonly misdiagnosed, with certain steps you can take to ensure your doctor is completely informed for a correct diagnosis:

  • Get second and third opinions. It might seem unnecessary, but getting several opinions from various experts can increase the likelihood of a correct diagnosis. Tests can be redone to ensure no mistakes have been made at the laboratory, and the results can also be compared so you can get a second opinion.
  • Get a thorough medical history. Having a thorough medical history of illnesses that run in your family can make a big difference. Doctors can make more accurate diagnosis of cancers if they are aware that there are specific types that occur often in your family. This will increase your chance of having a cancer diagnosis due to genetics.
  • Ask for specific tests. Although it can be quite an expense, particularly if you decide to ask for private care, asking doctors for specific tests to address your pain and symptoms is your right. This can be done if you feel like your doctor isn’t giving your illness the attention it is due.

Bowel Cancer

Also known as colorectal cancer, bowel cancer relates to cancer in areas of the large intestine (such as the rectum or the colon). Some symptoms of bowel cancer can be blood in stool, increasingly worse constipation, loss of weight, loss of appetite, vomiting, and nausea, amongst others.

Breast Cancer

Diseases such as fibrocystic breast disease and breast inflammation are very common in women, and might lead to a false diagnosis. Typical symptoms of breast cancer can be a lump, discharge from the nipples, skin irregularities on the breasts, swelling in the armpit or collarbone areas, and any abnormal shape or lump.

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer can often be misdiagnosed as pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, or gallstones. Some common symptoms for this type of cancer can be jaundice, pain in the back or upper abdomen, nausea, constipation, diabetes, and unexplained weight loss from poor digestion or loss of appetite.

Lung Cancer

Often misdiagnosed as respiratory problems such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, or asthma, lung cancer usually causes coughing and shortness of breath. Other symptoms can be coughing up blood, chest pain, fever, weakness, or weight loss.

Common Misdiagnosis Causes

  • Delayed cancer diagnosis. You or a loved one received a correct cancer diagnosis, but it was significantly delayed.
  • Missed cancer diagnosis. Your doctor missed your illness completely, and led you to believe you were healthy.
  • Test errors. Diagnostic tests may be incorrect, with laboratory or radiology clinics potentially providing inaccurate results.
  • Other related or secondary illnesses aren’t diagnosed. You may have complications related to cancer and these aren’t correctly identified, or you may have other conditions that aren’t diagnosed.

Doctors and medical practitioners have a duty of care towards all patients, however, misdiagnosis are unfortunately common. Making a claim is advised if you or a loved one suffered a cancer misdiagnosis.