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Activist and actor dies after alleged failure to diagnose cancer


Cancer is a worst-case scenario for a person who is feeling under the weather. A person goes to the doctor in Boston to receive treatment for the ailment and to assuage the fears that accompany the mere thought of having cancer. In many instances, the medical professionals will properly diagnose what the issue is - whether it's cancer or not - and take steps to treat it. There are times, however, when there is a missed diagnosis of cancer. This error can result in the spread of disease, worsened condition and death.

Russell Means was well known for his activism on the part of Native Americans, his presidential candidacy and for his sometime acting roles. At the age of 72, Mr. Means died of esophageal cancer. His widow has filed a lawsuit alleging that his doctors misdiagnosed his cancer causing delayed treatment and his eventual death. Mr. Means had gone to the hospital with trouble swallowing. He was choking up blood and had a persistent cough. They failed to diagnose his cancer. He went to another hospital for a second opinion where he was diagnosed. The cancer had spread from his esophagus to his lungs, lymph nodes and tongue. He was treated aggressively, but eventually died.

One of the keys to a successful treatment of cancer is to catch the disease in its early stages. Numerous forms of cancer are treatable if they're caught early enough, but if there is a failure to diagnose cancer when it could have been treated, the patient's chances are severely diminished. A person might breathe a sigh of relief when they or a family member go to the doctor with a stomach problem, a skin lesion, a lump or any other warning sign of cancer and are told it's not the dreaded disease. There are times when the calming diagnosis of something other than cancer turns out to be wrong.

In the case of Mr. Means, he had gone for treatment exhibiting numerous symptoms and the doctors allegedly missed his cancer. Several months later, he received the correct diagnosis. He died not long after. His wife is seeking compensation through litigation. Those who have experienced a similar problem need to understand how to proceed. In order to do that, it is a smart decision to discuss the matter with a qualified legal professional who understands medical mistakes.

Source: Denver Post, "Widow of Native American activist Russell Means files lawsuit," June 24, 2014

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