Misdiagnosis of Cervical Cancer
Talk to a New York City medical malpractice lawyer about your options.
Cervical cancer can usually be successfully treated if it’s detected at an early stage. However, once it progresses beyond the cervix and uterus, the likelihood of a cure goes down substantially. When doctors fail to conduct adequate screenings, or when they mistake cervical cancer for a different health problem, the cancer can progress and cause serious illness or death.
The cervix is a cylindrically shaped neck of tissue that connects the lowest part of the uterus to the vaginal canal. An opening in the center of the ectocervix, known as the external os, allows passage between the uterus and vagina. The endocervix or endocervical canal is a tunnel through the cervix into the uterus.
There are strict time limits for filing a cancer misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis claim, which is why it’s important to talk to a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you become aware of your cancer diagnosis. If you miss the deadline for filing a claim you could be forever barred from getting the compensation you deserve.
Statistics About Cervical Cancer in the United States
According to the American Cancer Society, there are over 13,000 cases of cervical cancer in the United States each year. Annually, around 4,250 women die due to cervical cancer.
In previous decades, cervical cancer was a leading cause of cancer deaths in women. However, cervical cancer screenings, known as pap smears, have greatly reduced the number of deaths attributed to cervical cancer. The majority of health insurance plans cover the cost of pap smears, which are the first line of defense in screening for cervical cancer and detecting cervical cancer in its early stages when it is the most treatable.
Vaccinations that protect women against cervical cancer are also available. When a teen or young woman is vaccinated against human papilloma virus (HPV), she reduces her risk of developing cervical cancer significantly, as 90 percent of cervical cancers are caused by HPV.
Cervical cancer can occur in any woman, but it’s quite rare for a woman under age 20 to be diagnosed with cervical cancer. The majority of patients diagnosed with cervical cancer are between the ages of 35 and 44. It’s also possible for women to be diagnosed when they’re older, and around 15 percent of cervical cancer patients are over age 65.
Certain demographic groups have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer, with the highest rates among Hispanic women, followed by black women, Asian women, and Caucasians. It’s important to note, however, that any woman can develop cervical cancer, which is why routine screenings should never be skipped.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
One of the things that makes cervical cancer so insidious is that it usually doesn’t produce any symptoms in its early stages. A woman can have malignant and/or precancerous cells in her cervix without suffering any noticeable health effects.
Typically, the only way for doctors to detect these abnormal cells is by performing a pap smear. Most health experts recommend that women receive a pap smear once a year, although some experts say women can opt for testing every three years if they have a history of normal pap smears. A pap smear is performed by a physician by taking a sample of the cells of a woman’s cervix. The cells are then sent to a pathology laboratory for examination. The report is then typically sent to the woman’s physician.
In some cases, a woman will develop symptoms that indicate cervical cancer. These can include abnormal vaginal bleeding, abrupt changes in periods, bleeding after sexual intercourse, pain during sex, and vaginal discharge that contains blood.
In some patients, doctors may recommend special types of DNA testing if a woman has a family history of cervical cancer. Some cervical cancers can be genetic, so it’s very important for women at a higher risk of developing these cancers to receive the proper screening. Doctors may also recommend a biopsy of cells in the cervix to rule out cervical cancer.
Cervical Cancer Medical Malpractice
There are several reasons why a doctor may misdiagnose or delay diagnosing cervical cancer in a patient. One of the main causes of cervical cancer misdiagnosis is a false negative on a pap smear. Studies have shown that 4 out of 10 pap smears can return a false negative even when pre-cancerous or cancerous cells are present in the cervix.
This is why it’s important for doctors to perform additional testing in patients who are at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer, as well as patients who have pre-cancerous cells in their cervix.
In some cases, doctors may even misinterpret the results of a pap smear, believing the test has cleared a patient when there are actually pre-cancerous or cancerous cells present. This can cause a patient to go without potentially life-saving treatment.
Staging of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer staging is important for determining the proper treatment as well as the probability of a successful outcome. There are four stages of cervical cancer, with various sub-stages within each category. Stage 1 cervical cancers are those that have not yet spread beyond the cervix and uterus. Stage 2 cervical cancers have grown beyond the cervix and uterus, but have not spread to the lymph nodes. Stage 3 cervical cancers are those that have extended further, or have spread to the lymph nodes. Stage 4 cervical cancers have spread to the bladder or rectum, or to distant parts of the body such as lungs or bones. Higher stage cancers are more serious, and are more likely to cause serious disability or death. If your cervical cancer was misdiagnosed, or there was a negligent delay in diagnosis that resulted in the cancer going from a Stage 1 to a Stage 2, 3, or 4, for example, then you have been damaged by the delay, and you have a claim for medical malpractice.
Talk to a New York City Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer About Your Case
If your cervical cancer was misdiagnosed, or you suffered a delay in diagnosis of your cervical cancer due to a doctor’s negligence, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. Similarly, if a family member was misdiagnosed and it resulted in her death, there may be a valid wrongful death case to compensate those people who were dependent upon her, including a husband or children.
These damages can include money for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, out of pocket expenses, future medical costs, loss of support, and loss of nurture, care and guidance in the case children who have lost their mother. You deserve to receive compensation for your losses, and you shouldn’t have to pay for a doctor’s mistake. Discuss your case with a New York City medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.