Delayed Diagnosis of Lung Cancer Attorneys Pittsburgh, PA
Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer Serving Victims of Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis in Butler County, Allegheny County, and Across Western Pennsylvania
Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide. It is also the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States. The statistics are rather sobering: approximately 225,000 patients are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States on an annual basis, and approximately 60% of patients die within one year of being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Though lung cancer is frequently associated with smoking, the reality is that lung cancer may develop in patients who have never touched a cigarette in their lives. As such, lung cancer diagnoses can be surprising to both the patient and the physician who may have failed to properly screen for the cancer. With advancements in medical imaging, doctors have the ability to detect lung cancer in its early stages. If detected early, the cancer can be surgically removed and prevented from spreading to other bodily systems and organs. The sooner that lung cancer is caught, the higher the likelihood of patient survival.
Failure to “catch” lung cancer early can cause significant injury (and pain and suffering) to the patient. In some cases, it may even lead to death. If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer after a significant delay, the knowledgeable Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyers at Matzus Law can assist you with your claims and help you get justice and compensation.
Lung Cancer Signs and Symptoms
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 saw something – like a cancerous mass – that they weren’t actively looking for in the first place. Given that incidental findings on imaging can save lives, radiologists are trained to thoroughly study every patient film that comes across their desk.
In the past, lung cancer was primarily deemed a “smoker’s disease.” Conventional wisdom has changed, however, and a significant percentage of non-smokers, especially women, are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. Radiologists must therefore keep their eyes open for an abnormal mass in the lung on anyone’s film.
Common signs and symptoms of lung cancer include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
- Consistent, pervasive cough
- Bloody mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Chest and/or back pain
- Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
- Vocal changes
Cancer can be detected in many different types of films, including MRI or x-ray. Radiologists may then order a follow-up CT scan and PET scan to learn more information. After the CT and PET scans are performed, the patient typically undergoes a lung biopsy to confirm the cancer diagnosis, to determine the type of lung cancer, and to evaluate the lung cancer’s stage development.
Healthcare professionals cannot always “get it right,” but they must pay special attention to the circumstances. If the patient exhibits certain risk factors, there is a higher likelihood that their symptoms are indicative of lung cancer.
Risk factors of lung cancer include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
- Patient is a smoker.
- Patient is regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.
- Family history of lung cancer.
- Pollutant and chemical exposure.
Different Types of Lung Cancer
There are a number of different types of lung cancer. Generally speaking, lung cancer is split into two main categories: small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Roughly 15% of lung cancers can be defined as SCLC. Small cell lung cancers appear “small” under the microscope. They are rather dangerous, as they can spread to other bodily systems rapidly. This makes surgical intervention unlikely to resolve the cancer.
The remaining 85% of lung cancers can be defined as NSCLC. Non-small cell lung cancers can be further split up into three sub-types: adenocarcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and large cell carcinomas.
Adenocarcinomas are the most common form of lung cancer in the United States. They affect the outer portion of the lungs and may spread to the lymph nodes in more advanced stages. Many delayed diagnosis cases involve adenocarcinomas, as they can mistakenly appear to be pneumonia.
Squamous cell carcinomas are also quite common. They generally affect the bronchi and form a cavity within the lungs. They do not necessarily spread beyond the lungs.
Large cell carcinomas are somewhat rare, but they — like small cell lung cancers — are highly likely to spread (through the lymphatic system) to other organs, making them quite dangerous.
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. Once lung cancer has advanced, the patient’s chances of survival are drastically diminished.
Contact a Skilled Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Discuss Your Lung Cancer Delayed Diagnosis Case
If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer at a late stage, then you may be entitled to sue the diagnosing healthcare professionals for medical malpractice on the basis of a delayed diagnosis claim. You’ll need the help of an experienced delayed lung cancer diagnosis lawyer. Our Pittsburgh delayed diagnosis attorneys know how to investigate and prove the facts of physician negligence in order to obtain the maximum compensation that the law allows.
Here at Matzus Law, our medical malpractice legal team has secured damages for numerous clients, helping them obtain compensation for their lung cancer delayed diagnosis injuries. We represent clients in medical malpractice cases throughout Western Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, Butler, Greensburg, and Washington, PA. Call us at (412) 206-5300 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation.