Posts Tagged ‘misdiagnosis of cancer’

Maryland Medical Malpractice Verdict For Missed Cancer Diagnosis

Monday, July 9th, 2012

In February, 2003, a woman’s physician ordered a chest x-ray for the woman in preparation for her back surgery. The physician received the x-ray report from the radiologist that noted a mass on the woman’s right lung but the physician never advised his patient about the finding or order a follow-up examination or treatment. It was not until 19 months later that the woman was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the right lung (lung cancer) that had spread throughout her body and was incurable by the time of the late diagnosis.

On September 21, 2004, another chest x-ray was taken when the woman complained of shortness of breath. The lung mass was again detected but this time a follow-up CT scan and biopsy were ordered, which determined that the mass was cancerous. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy were begun but the woman died on February 16, 2005. The woman’s husband died six months before the Maryland medical malpractice case was filed.

The woman’s daughter filed the medical malpractice lawsuit as a result of the late diagnosis of her mother’s cancer. The medical malpractice claim alleged that the woman suffered unending physical pain, emotional anguish, fear, and anxiety due to the alleged medical negligence of her physician, and that her estate incurred medical expenses and funeral expenses. The deceased husband’s estate claimed the loss of his wife’s love, support, guidance, advice, and comfort.

The daughter’s derivative medical malpractice claim cited the tragedy from which she claimed she would never recover.

The medical malpractice case was tried before a jury over the course of 10 days before the jury rendered its verdict on June 19, 2012. The jury found the physician to have committed medical malpractice and awarded the woman’s estate $250,000 in noneconomic damages, $20,169.74 for the woman’s medical expenses, and funeral expenses in the amount of $1,395.00. The deceased husband’s estate was awarded $150,000 in noneconomic damages and $45,000 for loss of household services due to his wife’s delayed cancer diagnosis and her death. The medical malpractice jury also awarded the surviving daughter noneconomic damages in the amount of $225,000.

Source: Pickering, et al. v. Uscinski, et al., Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, Case No.: 305006V.

If you were the victim of medical malpractice in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you owe it to yourself and to your family to seek legal advice from a local medical malpractice attorney regarding your right to file a possible medical malpractice claim.

Click here to visit our website or call us on our toll-free line (800-295-3959) to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland or in your state who may be willing to investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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Melanoma Rates For Young People Are Rising Rapidly

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Cutaneous melanoma is the most serious and deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma ranks as the fifth most common cancer in men and the seventh most common cancer in women. However, among young adults (18 to 39), melanoma is the second most common invasive cancer (breast cancer is number one). While the lifetime risk for melanoma in males is 1.5 times greater than in females, the ratio is reversed in young adults, with the ratio as high as 1.8 for some age groups.

A recent study published in the April edition of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that the incidence of melanoma increased by 4-fold for young males and by 8-fold for young females from 1970 to 2009. (The study involved analyzing data regarding young adults in Olmsted County, Minnesota, from 1970 through 2009.)

The researchers stated that the behavior of young women may help explain the differences in the rates of melanoma between young men and young women, specifically highlighting that young women tend to use tanning beds (which exposes them to UV light) more than young men (the use of tanning beds significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma).

Sunburns in childhood and adolescence also increase the risk of developing melanoma over a lifetime. High-risk behaviors such as indoor tanning and exposure to sunburns are increasingly common among young men and young women, despite public health warnings and public health educational efforts to the contrary.

The study also found that the location of cutaneous melanoma differed between young men and young women. Melanoma was most commonly found on the back followed by the upper extremity in men, while women most commonly had cutaneous melanoma found on their lower extremity followed by their upper extremity.

The researchers noted that despite the increase in the incidence of cutaneous melanoma in young adults, the mortality rate is decreasing. Nonetheless, the researchers stress the importance of actively intervening to reduce the risk factors for cutaneous melanoma in young adults and they emphasize the importance of skin cancer examinations (screenings) in young adults.


The misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of cancers such as melanoma can significantly affect the quality of life of cancer patients as well as their life expectancy. The failure of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and others to timely refer patients with questionable or suspected conditions to cancer specialists, such as dermatologists for skin cancer, that are later diagnosed to be cancer may be medical negligence and may be the basis for a medical malpractice claim.

If you or a loved one’s cancer was misdiagnosed or late diagnosed, you should promptly contact a medical malpractice attorney to investigate whether there may be a basis for bringing a medical malpractice claim for your devastating injuries and losses.

Click here to visit our website or telephone us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you in investigating your possible medical malpractice claim and to file a medical malpractice lawsuit on your behalf, if appropriate.

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Tennessee Medical Malpractice Verdict For Deadly Delayed Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

In August, 2003, a 25-year-old Tennessee woman was examined by her OB/GYN who found a pea-sized lump in her left breast that the OB/GYN advised the woman was probably a cyst or fatty deposit. No further investigation or testing was done at that time.

About eighteen months later, during the woman’s pregnancy, she noticed that her left breast had become swollen and was more painful. Another OB/GYN then found a cystic/solid mass in her left breast. A mammogram and biopsy were ordered that revealed breast cancer and it was later determined that the breast cancer was Stage IV and had spread to her liver.

The medical malpractice lawsuit filed in 2006 alleged that had the original OB/GYN done appropriate testing in August, 2003, the cancer would have been discovered eighteen months earlier and at a much earlier stage before it had time to spread, and that the cancer would have been treatable at that time with likely survival. As a result of the alleged medical malpractice and the resulting delay in diagnosis, the woman had to undergo extensive and painful medical treatments and has suffered from severe pain and mental anguish. Her long-term survival from Stage IV breast cancer was unlikely.

After a two-week trial before a jury made up of both men and women that ended in July, 2009, the Tennessee medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in favor of the woman in the amount of $23.6 million, one of the largest jury verdicts in Tennessee history.


$23.6 million may sound like a too-large jury verdict until you realize the extent and duration of the pain and suffering that the young mother had to endure due to the alleged medical negligence of her OB/GYN and you consider that the woman will not survive her cancer and therefore will not be alive to experience the milestones of her baby daughter’s first day of  school, first school dance, first boyfriend, first prom, graduation from high school, first day of college, graduation from college, planning for her daughter’s wedding, her daughter’s wedding day, and the joy of being with her grandchildren. The young woman will also lose out on the long-term enjoyment of her marriage to a supportive husband who will be left to raise their young child on his own. A simple, non-evasive mammogram followed by a minimally evasive biopsy could have avoided this tragedy that will leave an unfillable void in the lives of the young woman, her husband, her child, her family, and her friends.

The medical malpractice experience of this Tennessee mother highlights the fact that medical care that falls below the required level of care can have catastrophic results that destroy the life of not only the patient, but also the lives of the patient’s family and loved ones.

No one expects that their medical care providers will breach the standard of care required of them but when they do, the advice of a medical malpractice attorney is critical to protecting the rights of innocent victims injured as a result of medical malpractice through no fault of their own.

Click here to visit our website  to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate. You may also reach us toll free at 800-295-3959.

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Nevada Medical Malpractice Verdict For Cancer Death of 27-Year-Old Mother

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

In one of the largest medical malpractice jury verdicts in Nevada during 2009, a young mother who had been complaining to her doctor for seven months that she had blood in her stools and abdominal pain beginning in 2004, died a painful death from colon and rectal cancer because her doctor misdiagnosed her condition as bleeding from hemorrhoids. If her doctor had timely and correctly diagnosed her cancer when he should have, with proper treatment she would have been expected to have a 97% survival rate.

Because her doctor failed in his responsibilities to his patient, her survival rate dropped to 50%. The late diagnosis resulted in her having to have major surgeries to remove her uterus and parts of her lower intestines. She also underwent aggressive chemotherapy but all efforts were futile; she died in 2007, leaving behind her husband and 5-year-old daughter.

The jury listened to all of the trial testimony and considered all of the evidence produced during the medical malpractice trial before returning a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $2.5 million.


The misdiagnosis of cancer or the late diagnosis of cancer continue to be a substantial basis for medical malpractice claims brought against negligent health care providers throughout the United States. Because many aggressive types of cancer can result in severe debilitation or death relatively quickly, it is important that signs and symptoms of cancer be thoroughly investigated and diagnosed to provide the patient with the greatest opportunity to survive the longest period of time and with the best quality of life.

Many cancers are highly treatable or curable if timely and properly diagnosed. If a symptom could be a sign of cancer, it should be aggressively investigated because the misdiagnosis of cancer or the failed diagnosis of cancer can be devastating to the cancer patient and his/her family.

In the Nevada case, the existence of the woman’s hemorrhoids may have misled her doctor to assume that her rectal bleeding was due to that relatively benign condition as opposed to being a sign or symptom of colon or rectal cancer. Simple and prompt medical testing (such as a colonoscopy) to investigate for the source and reason for the rectal bleeding should have been done, including a biopsy of any suspicious area, if appropriate – better safe than sorry.

Visit our website or call us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in your state if you suspect that you are the victim of medical malpractice.

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Delay In Diagnosis Of Oral Cancer May Be Medical Malpractice

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

There are approximately 30,000 new cases of oral cancer in the United States every year, resulting in about 9,000 deaths. The main risk factors for oral cancer are tobacco use and alcohol consumption — the greater the use, the higher the risk. Tobacco and alcohol use are associated with about 75% of oral cancers, with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and diet accounting for much of the other cases of oral cancer.

The 5-year survival rate for oral cancer ranges from 81% for those with localized disease, to 50.7% for those with regional disease, to 29.5% for those with distant metastasis. In general, the sooner the oral cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances for longer-term survival. However, the more aggressive the form of the oral cancer (often manifesting abruptly with signs of distant spread), the shorter the window to diagnosis and treat the cancer for the best possible outcome.

Delay in diagnosis can be classified by the following stages: ”Appraisal” (the time between when a person first detects an unexplained symptom and the moment when they infer an illness); ”Illness” (the time between when a person first infers a illness to when they decide to seek medical help); “Behavioral” (the time between when a person decides to seek medical help to the time when they act to schedule an appointment); ”Scheduling” (the time between when a person acts to schedule a medical appointment to the time of the first contact with a medical care provider); and, “Treatment” (the time between the first contact with a medical provider to the time when they begin treatment). The first three stages involve delay by the patient (“patient delay”) while the last two stages involve delay by the medical care provider (“professional delay”).

Patient delay accounts for the largest portion of total delay in diagnosing oral cancer, with one-half of patients with oral cancer making their first visit to a medical care provider within 1 to 2 months after first becoming aware of symptoms (20% to 30% of patients delay more than 3 months).  

Professional delay can occur at any point between the time that the patient enters professional care and the start of definitive treatment. Professional delay begins when the patient first visits the first medical care provider to have a symptom of oral cancer evaluated. The scheduling delay depends on how the patient describes the symptoms and whether it is the doctor or the office staff to whom the patient speaks (the scheduling delay tends to be shorter when it is the doctor with whom the patient speaks when scheduling an appointment). 

There is often a two-week delay based on clinical guidelines between when the patient is first examined for a suspicious lesion and the follow-up appointment so that the doctor can determine if the lesion is cancerous or a more common trauma or non-cancerous inflammatory-based lesion. The two week period is not considered a professional delay (there may also be a “referral delay,” which is the time between when a primary care physician first evaluates the patient and the referral — primary care physicians refer such patients for further assessments more than dentists, in terms of numbers).

There is a relationship between professional delay and patient prognosis. A period of greater than one month in professional delay is associated with a greater risk of late stage oral cancer (one study found that the risk is 1.56 greater for a late stage tumor for those patients experiencing one to three months professional delay compared to a delay of less than one month — a delay of more than three months had a three-times increased risk of having a late stage tumor). The risk of death for patients with delayed treatment for oral cancers was 1.7 greater, which would support the connection between professional delay and poor prognosis.

The conclusion that professional delay contributes to an increased risk of late stage cancer tumors is supported by a study finding that head and neck cancers proceeded from one stage to the next progressively faster as later stages were reached (the median period is 5.5 months for tumors progressing from one stage to a subsequent stage and subsequent stages are reached progressively faster). 


If you believe that professional delay has contributed to the diagnosis of later stage cancerous tumors, a poorer prognosis, or an earlier death, a medical malpractice attorney may be able to find answers to your medical malpractice questions. Visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you with your medical malpractice claim. You may also reach us toll free at 800-295-3959.

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Breast Cancer Treatment

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Once breast cancer is diagnosed, the decisions regarding how the oncologist (cancer doctor) and patient agree on the treatment for the cancer depends on the kind of breast cancer and the extent (spread) of the cancer. Traditional treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, and radiation therapy.

Surgery for breast cancer involves an operation to remove the cancerous tissues and often some surrounding tissue that will be examined under a pathologist’s microscope to increase the likelihood that the cancer has been removed. The surgery can be localized just to the effected breast or may include removal of lymph nodes under the arm or even more extensive surgery depending upon the type of cancer and the size and location of the cancerous tumor. Multiple surgeries may be necessary over the course of treatment to insure the best possible cancer treatment outcome.

Chemotherapy involves the use of specialized and often powerful drugs to shrink the size of the tumor or kill the cancer in its entirety. Some chemotherapy medicines can be taken orally in pill form and others must be given by IV (through a tube into a vein). The medical oncologist is a cancer specialist who will determine the best drug(s) to be used, how much and how often the drugs will be given, and the best methods for using the drugs.

Hormonal therapy seeks to prevent certain cancers from getting and using the hormones that they need to grow. The oncologist will determine if the specific cancer being targeted is appropriate for treatment by the hormonal therapies available. Hormonal therapy may be used in addition to other forms of cancer treatments.

Biological therapy helps the body’s immune system to fight the cancer and may also be used to help minimize the side effects of the other cancer treatments being used.

Radiation therapy uses high energy rays that are more powerful than standard diagnostic x-rays that are focused on the cancerous tumor in order to destroy the cancer cells. Although the technology has gotten better over time, nearby noncancerous cells may also be affected by the treatment. The oncologists who provide radiation therapy for cancer treatment are known as radiation oncologists.

New and sometimes bettter cancer treatments are being researched all the time. As new treatment options are being developed, they are often researched by specialists using small groups of patients in what are known as clinical trials. Information regarding clinical trials may be obtained from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) ( and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (

There are other options that may be used in addition to the traditional cancer treatments. These include complementary medicine (additional medicines and/or medical practices in addition to standard treatments) and alternative medicine (medicines and/or medical practices that are different from the standard treatments). Any decisions regarding complementary medicine and/or alternative medicine should be fully discussed and explored between the patient and the health care providers

Source: CDC

If the misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of cancer caused you or a loved one additional injuries, damages, or death, visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you with your medical malpractice claim or telephone us toll free at 800-295-3959.

Recent Cancer Statistics

Monday, June 20th, 2011

The American Cancer Society has issued its recent annual report regarding cancer death rates in the United States. It is projected for the year 2011 that there will be 1,596,670 new cases of cancers diagnosed with 571,950 cancer deaths. Improvements in cancer prevention, earlier detection, and better treatments are credited with the reduction of cancer deaths between 1990 and 2007 (22% reduction for men and 14% reduction for women, for a total reduction of approximately 898,000 cancer deaths).

Disparities in cancers and cancer death rates do exist. Lung cancer death rates for men are dropping faster than those for women, probably due to women beginning to smoke in large numbers later than men (death rates for lung cancer in men began to decline in 1990 but only began to decline in women just recently). Lung cancer accounts for 28% of cancer deaths in men and 26% for women. The most common causes of cancer deaths for men are lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colon/rectum cancer. For women, they are lung, breast, and colon/rectum cancers. Almost half of all cancer deaths among both men and women were the result of lung, prostate, breast, and colon/rectum cancers.

The educational level of people diagnosed with cancer had a great influence on cancer death rates, For example, for lung cancer in men, the death rate for the least educated was 5 times higher than the death rate for the most educated, which may reflect the smoking rates of these two groups (31% of high school or less educated men currently smoke versus 12% for college graduates and 5% for men with graduate degrees). The American Cancer Society estimates that 37% of premature cancer deaths, or 60,000 people, could have been saved had all people in the U.S. in 2007 had the same death rate as the most educated people.

The misdiagnosis and late diagnosis of cancer in both men and women (and also children) by health care providers continue to lead to the premature deaths of many people who would have survived had their cancers been timely and appropriately diagnosed. Misdiagnosis and late diagnosis of cancers lead to the expenditure of massive amounts of health care funds for treatment that would have been different or unnecessary if the cancers had been properly diagnosed. The loss of earning capacity and income of those whose cancers were not correctly diagnosed in time is a drain on the U.S. economy. The emotional toll on cancer patients and their families due to the negligent failure to timely and properly diagnose cancers is devastating and long-lasting.

The misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of cancer may be the basis for a medical malpractice claim. If you or a loved one had cancer that was not timely and appropriately diagnosed, visit our website to be connected with local medical malpractice lawyers who may be able to assist you with your medical malpractice claim or call us toll free at 800-295-3959.

Cancer Death Rates Falling

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

According to a recent report, cancer death rates began to decline in the early 1990s and have continued to do so. Cancer death rates declined an average of 1.6% a year between 2003 and 2007, and the overall incidence rates of cancer have declined about 1%.

However, death rates for cancer among men increased for liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and for melanoma. The incidence rates among men for liver cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, and for melanoma increased from 2003 to 2007.

Death rates for cancer among women increased for pancreatic cancer and liver cancer. The incidence rates among women for kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, leukemia, and melanoma increased from 2003 to 2007. The death rate for uterine cancer fell between 1975 and 1997 but increased in the following years.

The good news for women: lung cancer death rates for women fell for the first time in four decades (lung cancer death rates for men began declining about 10 years earlier, which is explained by the fact that more women began smoking in the middle of the last century, which was later than for men).

For children, cancer death rates continued to decline since the 1970s but the incidence of cancer in children increased by about 0.6% per year between 1992 and 2007.

Black men and black women had the highest cancer death rates overall but they also had the largest declines in cancer death rates between 1998 and 2007. Black men had the highest overall incidence rates for new cancers. White women had the highest cancer incidence rates among all women.

With regard to brain tumors, nonmalignant brain tumors were about two times as common as malignant brain tumors in adults 20 and older. While brain tumors in children were much more rare than in adults, they were much more likely to be malignant (33.7% of brain tumors in adults were malignant versus 65.2% of brain tumors in children that were malignant).

The most common type of nonmalignant brain tumor was meningioma, which was 2.3 times more common in women than in men.

While there were decreases in the overall cancer death rates and the overall incidences of cancers in nearly all racial and ethnic groups, the incident of cancer in people age 65 and older is expected to increase due to the expected doubling of the 65 and older population between 2000 and 2030. Therefore, it is anticipated that while there will be  declining cancer incidence rates, the actual number of people diagnosed with cancer will increase due to population changes (people 65 and older are at a higher risk of many common types of cancer).

Misdiagnosis of cancer and late diagnosis of cancer are two common reasons for medical malpractice claims. If you have been the victim of a misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of cancer in your family, our website can connect you with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you with your claim. Our toll free number is 800-295-3959.