Finding out that you have cancer is a shock that can be difficult to deal with. Some patients wonder how their treatment options might have differed if they had found out earlier about their illness. In some cases, things might have been very different if the cancer was diagnosed earlier because it might not have spread and worsened.
There is a fine line that comes into the picture with cases like this. If the delay in diagnosis was because you weren't showing any signs of the condition, there likely isn't anything you can do. If the delay was because your doctor didn't go through proper diagnostic steps and missed the diagnosis, you might have legal recourse.
Why might a cancer diagnosis be missed?
In some cases, the answer is that the doctor was negligent or didn't comply with the established standard of care. This might come because the initial doctor didn't order proper testing or failed to send you to a specialist if the symptoms and information warranted.
It is also possible that some of these tests might have been misread or misinterpreted. Not having the correct information can make it difficult for the medical professional to make a proper diagnosis.
Another cause is the busyness of the practice. When doctors and other medical staff members are bombarded with patients, they might not spend the time necessary with each patient. This can cause them to miss important points that would have helped with the diagnosis. It can also mean that there isn't adequate follow up after tests are done.
Why is early diagnosis of cancer important?
When cancer is diagnosed early, the patient can start treatments quickly. One issue that patients might face, even if they have a quick and early diagnosis, is that specialists might be backed up for appointments. This means that the cancer will be left to spread or worsen without the proper treatments.
The sooner cancer is diagnosed and the faster treatment is started, the better the prognosis. Sadly, a patient who has advanced cancer is at risk of passing away from it. This should make cases that potentially involve cancer a priority.
Patients who aren't properly diagnosed or have a delayed diagnosis that is due to negligence by a medical staff member might choose to seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim. This could help with the increased cost of care, as well as for other non-economic damages.