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What is Cancer?

Cancer is caused by abnormal overgrowth of cells. Usually these cells stick together and form tumors, they may be dispersed into the blood stream, or into the lymphatic system. As technology advances, the diagnosis of cancer has improved and treatments for cancer have also improved significantly. With advanced detection methods and treatments survival rates for cancer has dramatically increased. However cancer is the second leading cause of death in the USA. Misdiagnosis of cancer is not common because physical and health care professionals usually will perform comprehensive diagnostic testing if cancer is even a possibility.

Despite the advanced technology helping detect early cancer, misdiagnosis cases do occur. Cancer misdiagnosis often occurs when a doctor misreads a biopsy slide. When the suspicion of a malignancy arises, a biopsy is done to prove or disprove the presence of cancer. It is most often seen in prostate cancer patients. A minimum of eight separate biopsies should be preformed with many experts in the field recommending up to fifteen for better diagnostic accuracy. If cancer is not found in the biopsy specimens then close follow up with rebiopsy is recommended.

Once the biopsies have been taken in a prostate case, a consultation with the pathologist reading the specimens is important to the overall treatment of the patient. If the biopsy was from the area of the cancer but did not specifically detect cancer cells there may be other findings that are suspicious for a malignancy in the adjacent tissue.

What is Medical Malpractice in a Cancer Case?

Medical malpractice is a physician's failure to perform his job with caution and care as a competent practitioner in the same or similar specialization. In a failure to diagnose cancer case, it is often the physician's oversight or inability to properly diagnose cancer which is most times glaringly obvious. In the instance where the patient was thought of as a cancer risk and nothing was done to ensure proper screening, the patient has to prove that there was in fact a deviation from the standard of care. This measure requires another doctor reviewing the patient's existing file and coming to the conclusion that the doctor did indeed fail to do what was expected of him. This may include misinterpretation of test results and other medical errors.

The patient also has to prove that the deviation in one way or another prevented or substantially decreased his opportunity to beat the cancer. By virtue of the patient being thought of as a cancer risk and not being treated properly for it constitutes medical malpractice. If you find that you are in this position and need more information, call our attorneys at the Lassen Law Firm. We are here to help and point you in the right direction in making your claim.


Misdiagnosis is the number one medical mistake in Pennsylvania. When there is a delay in diagnosis, a localized form of cancer is unfortunately given time to enlarge or spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. The cancer diagnosis delay, which may last from several months to years, may result in a decrease in the patient's chance of cure or survival. This type of malpractice may occur when a patient reports to a doctor with a sign/symptom suggestive of cancer, but the doctor negligently fails to make the diagnosis because failing to:

  • Conduct a thorough examination;
  • Identify a malignant tumor;
  • Timely order or perform a test, study, or film;
  • Properly interpret the test images and lab results;
  • Read the results of a report;
  • Screen cancer-free patients routinely;
  • Properly determine the aggressiveness of the tumor;
  • Notice a cancerous lesion in a biopsy
  • Identify an abnormality in a study report;
  • Timely refer the patient to the appropriate specialist for further examination;
  • Recommend a follow-up appointment within the appropriate time period;
  • Attentively listen and understand a patient's complaints.

As a result of negligence, the cancer remains undiagnosed and starts spreading. When the cancer is eventually diagnosed, the unfortunate spread of the cancer may have resulted in the patient having a decreased chance of cure and having to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. Misdiagnosis can be absolutely devastating to a patient and their family, let alone the deadly consequences. Early diagnosis is a major factor in the outcome of most cancers. If you feel that you have been affected by a misdiagnosis of cancer you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to consult a legal professional experienced in handling cases such as these.

The issue of whether the doctor was negligent in detecting, diagnosing and treating cancer requires a medical expert who knows the details of diagnosis and medical malpractice. If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice, contact the Lassen Law Firm for a free case evaluation and learn how we may be able to help you recover compensation for your losses. Medical malpractice cases are much more involved than other types of personal injury cases. A medical malpractice plaintiff must prove that the doctor or medical staff did not show the proper level of care. It must be proven that their actions were not acceptable and they faulted either purposely or negligently. The Lassen Law Firm employs attorneys who have the legal knowledge and experience to help you succeed in your cancer misdiagnosis case.

Philadelphia Misdiagnosis of Cancer Lawyer

Cancer is a term used to describe a group of diseases that attack cells in the body, causing them to change, mutate and experience uncontrolled growth. Over time the majority of cancer cells grow in such a way as to form a lump or a tumor. Cancer is usually typed by its point of origin within the body and is named as such.

Cancer is typically considered by the general public to be a deadly disease, and the term incites fear and anxiety in those who are diagnosed. The truth is, many forms of cancer are treatable and the prognosis for patients is often very favorable. Recent breakthroughs in cancer research mean that many cancers do not have to be a death sentence – but early detection and diagnosis is key.

While most cancer is detected early, there are times when a diagnosis is missed or greatly delayed. An estimated 15 percent of cancer cases are either misdiagnosed or missed completely in the early stages. This can be due to a variety of reasons but when fault falls upon the shoulders of the doctor, the lab or medical facility, the mistake can be devastating. However, patients who have experienced a failure to diagnose cancer do have recourse. A cancer misdiagnosis lawyer in Philadelphia from our firm can help get the patient the compensation to which they are entitled.

The Value of Early Detection

Cancer can be a killer and the longer it is allowed to be present in the body without treatment, the more dangerous it becomes. The longer cancer is allowed to grow and spread, the more difficult it is to treat. If detection is delayed for too long, the cancer can become completely untreatable. The consequences of this can be serious, including disfigurement, further health complications and even wrongful death.

According to the American Cancer Society, delaying a patient's cancer diagnosis by as little as three months can exponentially increase their mortality rate. Early detection can provide the patient with an extremely valuable asset – time. The patient has time to attack the cancer before it spreads, time to get treatment while it is still treatable and time to prevent the complications that can dramatically affect their quality of life even if the cancer is completely eradicated.

Early Diagnostic Tools

Doctors, nurses and physician assistants are trained to recognize certain symptoms that are indicative of early stage cancer. There are also numerous tests that can actually detect early stage cancer – sometimes even before the patient has begun experiencing symptoms. The technology and knowledge that allow for this early detection is out there and available for healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, these early diagnostic tools are not properly utilized either due to a doctor's mistake. This results in in a missed or delayed diagnosis.

Screening tests such as mammograms, Pap tests, Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test and screening for colorectal cancer can detect cancer early allowing it to be detected before the patient even experiences any symptoms. When symptoms are present then diagnostic tests are used so that the cause of the symptoms can be identified.

How a Cancer Diagnosis may be Delayed

A cancer diagnosis may be delayed for several reasons. Sometimes the physician is simply dismissive of a patient's symptoms. In the end though, it all comes back to negligence. Negligence that delays a cancer diagnosis can come in many forms.

  • Doctor or technician cannot recognize a tumor
  • Skin growths are not examined or biopsied
  • Equipment or diagnostic technology malfunctions
  • X-rays, MRIs and other imaging studies are misread
  • Diagnostic tests are not performed when they are needed
  • Elevated PSA is not detected
  • Failure to order appropriate testing despite suspicious symptoms in a patient
  • Technician or doctor did not perform the test correctly
  • Patient is not referred to the appropriate specialist
  • Lab results are switched, contaminated or lost
  • Test results are misread or misinterpreted

When cancer is suspected, there are many experts involved. The doctor should work with pathologists, radiologists and other specialists. These medical professionals have an ethical obligation to fully explore suspicious symptoms, especially when cancer is suspected.

When Early Detection Fails

A delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can leave patients afraid, frustrated and financially burdened as treatment must be handled more aggressively or their condition may be terminal and they must prepare for the end. Disfiguration may occur as large scars or missing limbs may come from tumor removal when early detection could have minimized the trauma.

Liable Parties when a Cancer Diagnosis is Delayed

The main party in the case of delayed or failed diagnosis of cancer is the doctor. Handling a delayed diagnosis case is typically very complex. Doctors will deny any negligence, shifting the blame to the lab technicians, specialists or even claim a malfunction of the diagnostic technology. They may assert that early detection and treatment would have had no effect on the case.

Most times it is the doctor who is negligent; other times it may indeed be the fault of other specialists or technicians involved, although the doctor is is on the hook still.

What to Look for in a Failure to Diagnose Cancer Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Philadelphia

Delayed diagnosis cases require expertise in not only the legal field, but in the medical field as well. Because of its complexity, patients need to carefully consider their legal representation. Medical malpractice is generally a blanket term and not all cases are created equal. Misdiagnosis of cancer or failure to diagnosis cancer is a highly specialized field of medical malpractice law that requires a great deal of technical know-how.

A patient seeking legal representation for a failure to diagnose cancer or misdiagnosis of cancer case should consider the following:

  • Does the attorney have experience with misdiagnosis or failure to diagnosis cancer? How much?
  • Does the attorney have experience handling cases like the patient's?
  • Does the attorney stay up to date on current medical issues? How?
  • Does the attorney have access to medical professionals for consultation? How does he or she find them?
  • What is the attorney's track record? How many failure to diagnose cancer cases has he or she taken to trial? How many were won?
  • Is the attorney in good standing with the bar?
  • Has the attorney ever been disciplined by the bar?
  • Does the attorney have the financial resources to handle the tremendous expenses that may occur in a medical malpractice case?
  • What do their references have to say?

Our top medical malpractice lawyers will get you the maximum possible compensation available under Pennsylvania law.

Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorney Philadelphia

If you or someone in your family has been seriously harmed by a medical error, please call our medical malpractice lawyers at the Lassen Law Firm. We are here to listen to you and to take action when it is deemed to be the right thing to do. The information you provide is held in absolute privacy and strictest confidence and is shared only with the attorneys that will be working on your concerns. The Lassen Law Firm works on a contingency basis meaning that we only get paid when you do, so there are no costs for our investigation fees. Call the Lassen Law Firm now to see how we can help.