Washington, D.C. Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorneys
Help for families whose loved ones were not given a diagnosis in time
Cancer is terrifying: Researchers still struggle to understand how it works, and treatments are largely limited to surgery or dangerous, toxic chemicals that kill cancerous and healthy cells indiscriminately. Detecting cancer early is a patient’s best chance at recovery, and yet people are left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed every day.
At Paulson & Nace, PLLC, we protect the people of Washington, D.C. whose doctors and oncologists failed to diagnose cancer correctly or in a timely manner. We understand how serious this failed diagnosis is, and that your life or the life of your loved one may hang in the balance. For more than 40 years, our family has advocated on behalf of patients who need someone to fight for them, offering aggressive strategies and supportive counsel deigned to protect you and your family in court and during settlement negotiations.
Why is cancer misdiagnosed?
“Cancer” is a nebulous term, because it applies one definition – the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells – to a host of conditions. There is no real understanding of why this happens, or why some cells divide uncontrollably while others do not. Though science understands the links between environmental and behavioral matters and the types of cancer they might cause, such as smoking’s potential to cause lung cancer, or exposure to asbestos resulting in mesothelioma, we are largely unsure why it happens.
One of the problems with cancer is that it has no set symptoms. Different forms of cancer affect the body in different ways; in some cases, the symptoms indicate or duplicate those of another condition or disease.
Which cancers are misdiagnosed most often?
- Lung cancer. Lung cancer may present with the same symptoms of bronchitis or an upper respiratory infection: coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Unless a doctor specifically orders a test, a patient may go undiagnosed. Lung cancer spreads quickly, and a delay in diagnosis can ultimately lead to the wrongful death of the patient.
- Breast cancer. One of the most common forms of cancer (in women) is breast cancer, so statistically speaking, there is always a chance that it will be missed or incorrectly diagnosed. Most cases of misdiagnosis involve patients undergoing painful but unnecessary treatments, though doctors may also misdiagnose breast cancer if they misread a chart, image, or test result.
- Colorectal cancer. Often mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome or even hemorrhoids, colorectal cancer affects the lower G.I. tract, such as the intestines.
- Pancreatic cancer. The pancreas produces insulin; diabetes, therefore, may be a symptom of pancreatic cancer. Doctors may diagnose the diabetes but fail to diagnose the pancreatic cancer if they do not explore the link. Pancreatic cancer may also be misdiagnosed as gallstones or pancreatitis.
Because so many cancers present as other illnesses, your doctor may not look for connections between your symptoms, your family medical history and your own medical records; instead, he or she may rely on past experiences with other patients who had similar symptoms to yours.
The tests may also read incorrectly, or a technician could make a mistake when performing the blood work or tests. All of these reasons can lead to a delay in your cancer diagnosis, which in turn leads to a delay in your treatment. Cases involving the failure to diagnose cancer are extremely complex and require an in-depth understanding of medical malpractice laws.
At Paulson & Nace, we have the skills, resources and experience you want on your side when your doctor has failed to diagnose cancer. We know what it takes to build a case that proves your delayed or missed cancer diagnosis has caused your condition to worsen, and we spare no expense in the process. When your injuries are exacerbated by a negligent medical professional, we are by your side, fighting for your rights.
What if you’re diagnosed with a cancer you don’t have?
While there are cancer patients who go undiagnosed and experience delayed treatment, the other side of the coin can be just as devastating. Patients can be misdiagnosed as having cancer when they didn’t have the disease. Even worse, they went forward with harsh cancer treatments they didn’t need and have been left with debilitating injuries they wouldn’t have otherwise experienced had they been properly diagnosed.
Treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy can ravage your body, not to mention unnecessary surgery you may have undergone. Injuries you may suffer vary depending upon the type of cancer and location. Long-term effects include:
- Anesthesia errors
- Surgical scars
- Being erroneously prescribed dangerous drugs
- Wrongful amputation of limbs
- Heart problems
Then there’s the psychological turmoil and panic individuals go through when the words “you have cancer” have been uttered by the doctor they trust. Then learning it was all a mistake can be a lot to bear. After all, missing a disease is horrific enough, but finding something that was never really there is a whole new concept to wrap your mind around.
Finally, while putting all your effort into fighting cancer, the medical condition you really had was ignored and left to worsen. Depending upon the illness, you could have a tougher fight on your hands.
Understanding cancer testing can help your D.C. medical malpractice case
Few individuals know which tests they are supposed to undergo to determine whether they have a certain form of cancer. This is one reason we have doctors. They’re supposed to know how to determine what’s wrong and how to help us. When it comes to cancer, there are various routine tests and screenings that are performed and knowing whether your doctor ever even discussed them with you, much less performed them, can point to why your cancer was missed.
Your first question should be whether your doctor took a solid medical history that signaled you are at higher risk genetically. Even knowing that you had a previous cosmetic surgery such as having breast implants done present a sign of cancer risk. Many tests are supposed to be performed based on higher risk within certain demographics, yet those tests are consistently put off.
Cancer screening can include both invasive and non-invasive tests such as:
- Mammogram for breast cancer
- Colonoscopy for colorectal cancer
- Prostate exam
- Biopsy for virtually any type of suspected cancer
- Pap and HPV tests for cervical cancer
- Endoscopy for throat, stomach and digestive tract cancers
- CT Scan for lung cancer if you have a history of smoking
- Skin exams to look for signs of skin cancer
Imaging tests can be used to detect many different types of cancer throughout the body in addition to the screening procedures above.
There’s a saying that “knowing is half the battle.” When it comes to a failed cancer diagnosis, being able to provide us with the knowledge that you didn’t receive proper medical care will go a long way toward our being able to fight for you. You deserve fair financial compensation for your suffering and the answers you need to gain some closure.
Protecting D.C. clients and families facing a delayed or incorrect cancer diagnosis
Paulson & Nace, PLLC, proudly offers comprehensive counsel to malpractice victims throughout Washington, D.C. If a doctor failed to diagnose your cancer, leading to a delay in your treatment, we want to hear your story. Please call 202.463.1999 or fill out our contact form to schedule a no-obligation consultation.