Early detection and treatment of cancer provides the best opportunity for cure. Many types of cancer have wonderful survival statistics – if they are caught early. This is especially true with today’s advances in medications and technology. All this rests on one important factor – a doctor has to appropriately suspect, test for, and diagnose the cancer.
Many types of cancer have signs and symptoms that should alert doctors to a potential problem. In the case of breast cancer a woman might feel a lump or have a suspicious mass detected on a mammogram. With colon cancer one might experience rectal bleeding or abnormal stools. With cervical cancer there might be abnormal bleeding or discomfort. In many cases people do not know that their symptoms are serious, and they’re not supposed to. Doctors are supposed to know – that’s their job.
Failing to diagnose and treat cancer in the face of classic signs and symptoms is basically stealing someone’s life. It is malpractice that can result in extensive and painful treatments, amputation, and death. It disrupts the life of the person who’s hurt, and the lives of their entire family.
An example of a case handled by the lawyers at Kelley/Uustal that involved a failure to diagnose cancer is the case of a young man who went to the doctor because he was experiencing rectal bleeding. His doctor was an HMO doctor, and the tests to screen for colon cancer would have come out of the doctor’s own pocket. Therefore, the doctor did not conduct the testing. He diagnosed hemorrhoids and sent the patient on his way. This proceeded for two years, with multiple visits per year. The man continued to experience rectal bleeding, abnormal stools, abdominal pain, weight loss, and eventually anemia from losing so much blood, and the doctor continued diagnosing hemorrhoids. The man eventually went to a gastroenterologist who quickly diagnosed his colon cancer (and the fact that the man never had hemorrhoids – the first doctor didn’t even look!). Unfortunately, by that time it was too late. The first doctor had allowed the cancer to grow and spread. A $2.5 million recovery was made on behalf of the man’s five children.