Early diagnosis is critical to successfully treating a number of serious diseases, such as lung cancer. The sooner treatment begins, the better the patient’s chances of recovery. For a disease like lung cancer, a misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis can delay treatment to a point where it is no longer effective, significantly reducing the patient’s chances for recovery or even survival.
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 200,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. It’s also one of the deadliest. 150,000 people die from lung cancer each year, accounting for almost 25% of all cancer deaths. More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Of those diagnosed with the disease, many don’t survive for longer than five years.
The survival rate for people with lung cancer varies, depending on the stage (extent) of the cancer when it is diagnosed. The earlier a cancer is diagnosed and treatment begins, the better the patient’s long-term prognosis.
Lung Cancer Facts
Lung cancer is a cancer that starts in the lungs, when abnormal cells begin to grow and cluster together, forming tumors. Unlike normal cells, the cancer cells spread without order or control, destroying the healthy cells around them. Left unchecked, the damage will eventually prevent the lungs from functioning normally.
There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small lung cancer.
Risk factors for lung cancer can include:
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Previous radiation therapy
- Exposure to radon gas
- Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens
- Family history of lung cancer
Lung cancer is hard to diagnose in its earliest stages, since the signs and symptoms of lung cancer usually don’t appear until the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage. These signs and symptoms can include:
- A persistent cough that doesn’t go away
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bone pain
Patients respond best to treatment when the disease is diagnosed in its earliest stages. Treatments for lung cancer can include:
- Surgery (wedge resection, lobectomy, pneumonectomy)
- Radiation therapy
- Stereotactic body radiotherapy
- Targeted drug therapy
Why Are There Such High Rates of Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Diagnostic errors are a major problem for the U.S. Healthcare system. Studies suggest that as many as 80,000 people a year die due to a misdiagnosis of a medical condition. Vascular events, infections, and cancers are the three most commonly misdiagnosed conditions.
According to a study published by the journal BMJ Quality and Safety, it’s estimated that 28% of cancer cases are misdiagnosed. Lung cancers are among the most frequently misdiagnosed cancers.
According to a 2017 study, observer error — a failure to diagnose lung cancer on chest radiographs or computed tomography (CT) scans — is the most significant factor contributing to a misdiagnosis of lung cancer. (In 90% of the cases, errors in diagnosis of lung cancer occurred due to a failure to detect the disease on chest radiographs.)
One problem with early diagnosis of lung cancer is that the symptoms of the disease don’t begin to manifest themselves until the cancer has progressed to a certain stage. Another problem is that the symptoms of lung cancer could indicate a number of medical conditions, such as acid reflux, asthma, or bronchitis. It’s important for a doctor to recognize the red flags of lung cancer and order the necessary exams, tests, and screenings.
A lung cancer misdiagnosis delays badly needed treatment. The disease can advance to a stage where some treatment options may no longer be effective, significantly reducing a patient’s chances of survival.
A Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Could Be Medical Malpractice
Depending on the circumstances, a lung cancer misdiagnosis could be considered an act of medical malpractice. In order to recover damages for a misdiagnosis of lung cancer, you must be able to prove that:
- A patient/doctor relationship existed;
- The Doctor was negligent in misdiagnosing your lung cancer;
- The delay in treatment caused by the Doctor’s negligence made your condition worse; and
- You suffered damages as a result of this delay in treatment.
Proving that a doctor was negligent in their misdiagnosis can be difficult, as can showing that the misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis of lung cancer made your condition worse. A personal injury attorney with extensive experience in medical malpractice cases can help you establish the proof you need to prove your claim.
Fort Lauderdale Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorney
If your doctor should have diagnosed your lung cancer but failed to do so, contact the law offices of Fort Lauderdale cancer attorney Lisa Levine without delay. Lisa Levine is a nationally recognized medical malpractice attorney who has represented many clients and their families who have had their conditions made worse and chances of survival and recovery drastically reduced due to a doctor’s lung cancer misdiagnosis.
Schedule a free, no obligation initial consultation with Lisa Levine to discuss your lung cancer misdiagnosis case. She’ll review the evidence, answer any questions you may have, and provide professional legal advice on the best way to proceed with your case. Lisa Levine handles medical malpractice cases on a contingency basis, which means there are no up-front costs to her clients and they only get charged after she’s won their case.