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Why a delayed cancer diagnosis can be very costly

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Failure to Diagnose

A cancer diagnosis is the last thing someone wants to receive from their doctor. People typically prefer to have minor infections or treatable injuries rather than cancer. After all, cancer is notorious for being a leading cause of death.

The treatments used to battle cancer are often as debilitating as cancer itself. Radiation and chemotherapy treatments can leave people bed-bound or hospitalized for weeks on end. Although no one wants a doctor to diagnose them with cancer, a failure to diagnose their cancer can be even more devastating. When a doctor doesn’t recognize the early warning signs of cancer, their medical mistakes could end up proving very expensive for the patient involved.

Cancer can progress rapidly

Each type of cancer grows in different ways and responds to different forms of treatment. Mesothelioma, for example, starts in the organ linings. By the time people get diagnosed, they may have gone decades since their exposure to carcinogens. However, statistically they are likely to die within five years of their diagnosis because mesothelioma spreads rapidly.

Someone with skin cancer, on the other hand, might be eligible for surgical treatment and may have a very good chance of achieving remission. Effective treatment typically relies on prompt diagnosis. The more cancer spreads, the more invasive treatment has to be to eradicate it.

Patients dealing with a delayed cancer diagnosis may lose their opportunity for localized and non-invasive care. After cancer starts spreading, systemic and invasive treatments may be the only option. Not only do those treatments tend to cost substantially more, but they also make it all but impossible for someone to continue working in some cases.

Doctors should rule out cancer during diagnosis

The early stages of cancer often generate relatively generic symptoms. Someone with lymphoma might feel tired or might have a strange rash. Doctors might diagnose them with allergies or scabies instead of ruling out cancer first. Best practices for the diagnostic process include carefully ruling out serious medical issues or reaching an affirmative diagnosis. Doctors who rush to a medical conclusion do a real disservice to their patients.

Patients struggling with increased medical costs and lost wages due to undiagnosed cancer may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Families who lose loved ones due to treatable cancers that doctors did not diagnose may also have grounds for a lawsuit. Holding medical professionals accountable for diagnostic failures can benefit those harmed by unprofessional medical conduct. A successful medical malpractice lawsuit can lead to financial compensation and also a change in how a doctor handles diagnostic matters in the future.