Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States. Approximately 225,000 patients are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States every year and some of those diagnoses are delayed due to malpractice. Our Pittsburgh delayed lung cancer diagnosis lawyer can help. It used to be that cancers were almost always caught at late stages, once the disease was no longer curable. Now, with advancements in medical imaging, doctors are on the look-out for cancer and can detect it at early stages. The number one cancer prevention tool is early detection of the deadly disease. When lung cancer is detected during its early stages, stage IA for instance, the cancer can be surgically removed and stopped before it spreads. The earlier lung cancer is caught, the higher the chances of patient survival. Patients are most often evaluated for lung cancer after having persistent symptoms of cough or back pain or because of an incidental finding on back or chest imaging. An incidental finding means that a radiologist sees something – like a cancerous mass – on a film that no one was looking for in the first place. Because incidental findings on imaging save so many lives, radiologists know to look at every part of every single patient film that comes across their desk. Doctors used to be primarily on the look-out for cancer in patients who smoked. But the scary fact is that a significant percentage of non-smokers, especially women, are being diagnosed with lung cancer every year. For example, Dana Reeve, the widow of “Superman” Christopher Reeve, died in 2006 of lung cancer despite never having smoked. This is yet another reason for radiologists to keep their eyes open for an abnormal mass in the lung on anyone’s film!
Common signs and symptoms of lung cancer include:
Cancer can be detected on many different types of films, including MRI or x-ray. Once cancer is suspected, radiologists must order a follow-up CT scan and PET scan to learn more information about the suspected cancer. These scans help determine the size of the cancer and whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. After the CT and PET scans are performed, the patient will undergo a lung biopsy to confirm the cancer diagnosis, determine the type of lung cancer and to stage the cancer. Determining the type and stage of lung cancer is a significant event for the patient. A non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) diagnosed at an early stage means a patient can be saved with surgical removal of the tumor. Unfortunately, when a patient is diagnosed with late stage advanced lung cancer that has already spread to their lymph nodes or other organs the patient’s options are very limited. Late stage lung cancer is generally not surgically treatable. Late stage lung cancer typically requires chemotherapy and radiation treatment, exposing the patient to all of the harsh side-effects that go along with these treatments. Chemotherapy and radiation can extend the patient’s life, but once lung cancer has advanced past the primary site in the lung a patient’s chances of survival are drastically diminished.
Radiologists and other doctors cannot miss the opportunity to diagnosis lung cancer at an early stage because the result means the patient may not discover their lung cancer until it has reached an advanced, deadly stage. If this is the case, you’ll need the help of an experienced delayed lung cancer diagnosis lawyer. If you or a family member has suffered injury or harm due to a delayed diagnosis of lung cancer, our medical malpractice attorneys know how to investigate and prove the facts of physician negligence, in order to obtain the maximum compensation that the law allows.
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