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A late cancer diagnosis can lower your chance of survival

Cancer is a group of malformed cells in your body. The more of them that they are and the further they've spread, the harder they are to eradicate.

That's what makes getting an early, accurate diagnosis so important. Even a short delay in your diagnosis can end up hurting your chances of survival by quite a bit.

For example, if you're diagnosed with lung cancer early in the process or "stage" of the disease, you have a 52 percent chance of surviving the next five years. If that same cancer isn't caught until it is at a later stage, the odds drop to a measly 4 percent.

Is a failure to diagnose cancer medical malpractice?

That's not always an easy question to answer, but it is one you should be asking if you received an incorrect diagnosis that wasted your time and allowed the cancer to grow. Similarly, if you feel like your doctor didn't take reasonable measures to make sure the diagnosis was correct, you should also be asking questions.

Here are some examples of behaviors related to the failure to diagnose cancer:

  • You made repeated attempts to get your doctor to listen to your complaints, but he or she wasn't interested in hearing them.
  • Everything you complained about was essentially dismissed as a mental health issue -- perhaps waived off as a symptom of depression.
  • You were given a diagnosis that wasn't supported by evidence. For example, your doctor may be on the "gluten wagon" and have insisted that a gluten-free diet would cure your symptoms, despite the fact that you have never had these problems before, didn't have the gene that shows up in people with a true gluten intolerance and the gluten-free diet failed to make a difference.
  • You weren't referred to an appropriate specialist.

While these are just some of the ways that medical negligence can cause a delay in cancer diagnosis, the thing to keep in mind is that if you suspect more should have been done, you should speak to an attorney about your doctor's failure to diagnose your cancer in a timely manner.

Source: Consumer Safety, "Failure to Diagnose and Cancer Misdiagnosis," accessed Oct. 24, 2017

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