With modern treatments, many patients who have their cancer diagnosed at an early stage have much higher odds of recovery and long-term survival than in years past. However, as cancer progresses, treatment options dwindle, and life expectancy decreases. The loss of treatment options can make a cancer misdiagnosis devastating. On the other hand, receiving a false-positive diagnosis can lead to painful, unnecessary treatment.
If you’ve suffered a misdiagnosis or delayed cancer diagnosis, get legal help to hold your healthcare providers accountable for their negligence. The experienced Philadelphia malpractice attorneys at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg, & Jeck, P.C. can assist you with pursuing compensation for your additional medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Our firm has a proven record in cancer misdiagnosis claims, including an $11.2 million verdict for a client with a misdiagnosed brain tumor. You can count on our attorneys to work tirelessly on your case, including going to court to help you demand justice. Contact our office today for a free consultation with a Pennsylvania cancer misdiagnosis lawyer.
What Cancers Are Most Commonly Misdiagnosed?
Many cancers go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for various reasons. Some cancers are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because they are rare and medical providers fail to consider them related to the patient’s symptoms. Many forms of cancer share similar symptoms with other more common medical conditions. Sometimes, it is challenging to identify cancerous tumors during the early stage of the disease. Despite these challenges, your medical providers owe you a duty of care to use their skill and knowledge to properly diagnose you.
Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers include:
- Lung cancer – Because lung cancer causes symptoms such as chronic cough, shortness of breath, or voice changes, patients with lung cancer may be diagnosed with a respiratory infection or chronic respiratory illness. Lung cancer is the second most commonly misdiagnosed cancer, according to research published by JAMA Network.
- Colorectal cancer – Colorectal cancers form in the large intestine and rectum. These cancers can cause symptoms that result in a mistaken diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease. According to the qualitative study published by JAMA Network, colorectal cancer is the most commonly misdiagnosed cancer.
- Breast cancer – Breast cancers are often misdiagnosed because doctors miss signs of cancer on mammograms or misdiagnose precancerous cells as the beginning of cancerous tumors. Breast cancer rounds out the third most commonly misdiagnosed cancer.
- Pancreatic cancer – Pancreatic cancer frequently causes symptoms in a patient’s digestive system, sometimes leading to diagnoses of other conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or gallstones. Patients might also receive a diabetes diagnosis even though diabetes can be a symptom of or risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
- Lymphoma – Lymphoma is a cancer of the cells that make up the immune system. It causes symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, and recurring fevers, which doctors might attribute to a cold or infection.
- Skin cancer – Some types of skin cancer can mimic other dermatological conditions, like eczema, causing doctors to misdiagnose a patient’s condition or to ignore suspicious marks or growths.
- Ovarian cancer – Ovarian cancer’s primary symptoms include abdominal pain and bloating, which may lead doctors to diagnose a woman with a digestive issue or a urinary tract infection. Some doctors may dismiss a woman’s symptoms as psychosomatic or caused by stress or other mental health issues, an unfortunately common occurrence according to research.
- Cervical cancer – Doctors use pap smears as the primary diagnostic tool to identify cervical cancer. However, lab analysts may not notice abnormal cells on a pap smear, leading to a false-negative test result.
- Bladder cancer – One of the primary signs of bladder cancer includes blood in the urine, which may lead doctors to misdiagnose a patient with a urinary tract infection. Doctors may compound their error by failing to follow up with a patient after a course of antibiotics to confirm whether treatment has resolved their symptoms.
- Leukemia – Leukemia, or cancer of the blood, causes some of the same symptoms as other severe medical conditions, such as hemophilia or anemia, potentially leading patients to receive intensive, unnecessary treatment while not getting the life-saving cancer treatment they need.
Proving Cancer Misdiagnosis
Recovering compensation in a cancer misdiagnosis claim requires more than proving that a doctor misdiagnosed cancer. A plaintiff must also prove that another doctor under similar circumstances would not have misdiagnosed the patient. They must also prove that they suffered some compensable harm due to the misdiagnosis, such as needing more expensive medical care or experiencing a reduced life expectancy due to their cancer progressing to a more advanced stage.
Examples of evidence a lawyer might use to prove a cancer misdiagnosis claim include:
- Medical records
- A doctor’s treatment notes
- Diagnostic test results, including lab test results or radiology scans
- Witness testimony
Your Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney must also obtain a medical expert to testify to the applicable standard of treatment in your case, how your healthcare providers’ actions failed to meet the standard, and how that substandard treatment caused the harm you suffered.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit after a Misdiagnosis of Cancer
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations requires a plaintiff to file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years of the date when their doctor misdiagnosed cancer or within two years of the date they discovered (or should have discovered) that they suffered a misdiagnosis or discovered an injury caused by the misdiagnosis, whichever occurs later. While two years may seem like plenty of time to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, your lawyer will need time to investigate and prepare your case. The trial court can dismiss any lawsuit filed after the deadline, so don’t wait to speak with a Philadelphia malpractice attorney about pursuing your legal claims.
When a plaintiff files a medical malpractice complaint alleging that they suffered a cancer misdiagnosis, Pennsylvania law requires the plaintiff to file a “certificate of merit” with the complaint or within 60 days of filing the lawsuit. The certificate of merit verifies that the plaintiff has obtained a written statement from a licensed medical professional who provides an opinion to a reasonable degree of probability that the healthcare provider’s treatment fell outside the acceptable standard of care and that this substandard treatment caused the harm the plaintiff claims to have suffered.
Get Help from a Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer
If you’ve experienced a cancer misdiagnosis, you deserve to seek compensation and justice from the healthcare providers whose negligence harmed you. Turn to Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg, & Jeck, P.C. for help pursuing accountability. Contact our firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation with our Pennsylvania cancer misdiagnosis lawyers about your legal options.