Failure to Diagnose Cancer

Hovermale Law—Failure to Disgnose Cancer Malpractice One of the most frequent types of cases seen in medical malpractice is the failure to diagnose cancer case.  In this type of case, the claim is that there was significant evidence of cancer that was overlooked or ignored by a medical professional, enabling the unchecked spread of the cancer, and often resulting in death.  Determining whether there was negligence requires working backwards from the date of eventual discovery of cancer and the stage of the cancer at that time, to determine the likely size and stage of the cancer at the time of the negligent act.

While the medicine differs somewhat with different types of cancers, some general principles apply to the analysis of all failure to diagnose cancer cases. For example, in a case of failure to diagnose lung cancer, a delay in diagnosis of less than six months generally means that the claim will be difficult to prove. Obviously, it all depends on the stage of the cancer when finally discovered, and working backwards to try to determine what stage it was in when the alleged negligent act occurred.

In failure to diagnose breast cancer cases, one of the key questions is whether there have been metastases into the lymph nodes and how many nodes are affected. There exists a staging system based on number of lymph nodes involved, size of tumor and other factors. If enough time has elapsed between the alleged negligent act and the discovery of the cancer, oncologists can extrapolate backwards in time using typical growth rates of tumors and statistical evidence that has been gathered over the years to estimate the size and stage of the cancer at the time of the negligent act.

The specific type of cancer is also important. Different types have different growth patterns and different prognostic implications at different times. Most of the time, a failure to diagnose cancer claim requires a review of the medical records and many times consultation with an oncologist or other specialist.

Examples of Failure to Diagnose Cancer Cases

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