Woman with a cancer diagnosis in hospital.

Did you know that between 40,000 and 80,000 deaths occur each year, in the U.S. alone, because of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis? And this isn’t counting all the cases that go unreported. We’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.

Almost 10 million people will die from cancer this year. It is the cause of death for one in every six people. Cancer is scary. Just the name itself evokes a fear for many people. Thanks to evolving technology it can be a treatable and curable disease, especially when detected early. But what happens if a healthcare provider fails to diagnose cancer. Or misdiagnose it?

The patient suffers the consequences. 

A delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can:

  • Limit the effectiveness of treatment
  • Cause the patient’s health to rapidly deteriorate
  • Cost the patient time and money
  • Result in unnecessary pain and suffering
  • In some cases, cause the death of a patient

A late diagnosis or a cancer misdiagnosis is sometimes the direct result of negligence from a healthcare provider. There is of course the physical uphill battle a patient will have to fight. Beyond that, is the emotional, traumatic realization that they’ve been given a misdiagnosis. These patients have the right to seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim. 

How Cancer Can Be Misdiagnosed

Sometimes, cancer in patients might go undetected. This can happen due to:

  • Lack of screenings and testing 
  • Doctor not listening
  • Lack of knowledge on the doctor’s end – not being to differentiate between similar diseases/conditions
  • Failure to test patient on time
  • Misreading of results

When cancer isn’t identified, or there’s a delay in diagnosis, the window for treatment may decrease. This can be life-threatening.

Other times, a different disease may be given a diagnosis of cancer when it’s something entirely different. This can lead to painful and expensive unnecessary cancer treatments. All while the underlying disease might be progressing and causing additional complications.

Real Life Consequences Of Cancer Misdiagnosis

Jennifer Rufer was 22 when she was given a cancer misdiagnosis. When Jennifer went to see the doctor because of irregular bleeding, they took her blood sample to test for pregnancy. It came back positive, yet no fetus was found. Additional pregnancy tests were done by the medical facility using the same Abbott test. After HCG levels kept showing high, doctors were suspicious of a rare form of cancer – gestational trophoblastic tumor. It spreads quickly and can be deadly. 

Jennifer was given a referral to a cancer specialist and was officially diagnosed with cancer. She began chemotherapy immediately. After months of treatment, her HCG levels on the Abbott test were still high. She was advised to undergo a hysterectomy. 

Tissue samples after her hysterectomy showed no evidence of cancer. When HCG levels came back high again, she underwent additional surgeries. 

Finally, it was revealed that the Abbott test was faulty, after all. There was never a pregnancy, and more importantly, there was never cancer. Doctors misdiagnosed cancer for nothing. Jennifer Rufer underwent months of chemotherapy and had a hysterectomy for absolutely no reason.

She eventually won a $16 million lawsuit against the hospital where she was given treatment, as well as Abbott laboratories (manufacturer of the specific pregnancy test). But still, Jennifer had to go through life-altering consequences that will impact her forever.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Cancers

Whether physicians diagnose the wrong type of cancer or fail to recognize the symptoms of it, misdiagnosis can dramatically shorten a patient’s life. These cancers are the most common to receive a cancer misdiagnosis:

  • Lung Cancer is often diagnosed at later stages. This is because patients themselves often do not feel symptoms earlier in the disease. Physicians can interpret these symptoms of other lung conditions such as asthma, COPD, or pneumonia. 
  • Breast Cancer misdiagnosis usually occurs during a mammogram screening. 
  • Prostate Cancer can rapidly spread to other parts of the body. If not treated early, it can lead to other alarming conditions. However, false positives during the initial biopsy can lead to unnecessary and painful surgery.
  • Ovarian and Cervical Cancers are highly treatable if caught early on. But when doctor’s believe cancer to be another condition, patients may die from the delayed treatment. Patients may report symptoms that mimic those of less severe conditions such as indigestion. But if a physician wrongly diagnosed milder conditions for cervical or ovarian cancer, patients may face unnecessary hysterectomies. A lawyer works on a malpractice case.

Contact A Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer

Victims of cancer misdiagnosis suffer profusely. If doctors miss the critical window for adequate treatment, a patient’s health and life may be on the line.

If you believe you or your loved one is a victim of a cancer misdiagnosis, please reach out to us today. Contact us by filling out this simple contact form, here. We will do everything we can to fight for you.