In this informative piece, New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer Robert G. Sullivan, Esq. explains why the timely detection and treatment of lung cancer is so important to patients. Mr. Sullivan also describes the catastrophic consequences of a failure to diagnose the disease, an omission that may be the basis for a medical malpractice action.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Approximately 350,000 people in the United States are living with lung cancer at any given time. In 2007, lung cancer accounted for approximately 15% of all cancer diagnoses and 29% of all cancer deaths. Lung cancer does not only affect smokers. A 2006 article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that lung cancer death rates among non-smoking men and women were 17.1 and 14.7, respectively, per 100,000 people per year. See, Lung Cancer Death Rates in Lifelong Nonsmokers, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Thun, Michael, et al..
Despite these grim statistics, demonstrating that lung cancer is a threat to most adults, the illness is treatable if diagnosed early enough.
Unfortunately, mistakes may be made by health care professionals in the best position to make a timely diagnosis. They often fail to recognize and diagnose the presence of lung cancer in its earliest stages. These mistakes can occur in many ways. All too often, individuals seek out physicians because they have symptoms consistent with lung cancer; however, due to the physicians’ failure to properly work up these symptoms, their cause is left undetermined.
The use of X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, cytology and tissue examination may be necessary for the proper diagnosis. Lung cancer should always be suspected when an individual has an abnormal chest radiograph or has symptoms of lung cancer, such as a persistent cough, shortness of breath, and production of blood upon coughing. Failure of a physician to suspect or consider cancer as the reason for a patient’s symptoms, when those symptoms are consistent with the disease, can be the basis for a medical malpractice action.
Radiology is an especially critical area. Frequently, lung cancer is overlooked or underinterpreted in radiographic procedures. Many times, when patients are admitted to the hospital for a surgical procedure and undergo routine pre-operative chest film, lung cancers are either overlooked or not brought to the attention of the patient or his physician when seen. Lung cancers may appear as an area of discoloration on x-ray films.
If you think your lung cancer was not timely diagnosed, immediately seek out the proper medical care. You may also consider contacting an attorney experienced in handling medical malpractice suits in New York State. A medical malpractice lawyer will be able to answer questions concerning the rights an injured patient has, the time limitations to initiate legal proceedings, and the type of remedies and compensation available to victims of medical negligence.