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4 Causes of Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

January 28, 2021
Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis Pittsburgh, PA

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the country; the American Cancer Society estimates that over 220,000 adults are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. 

The more quickly lung cancer can be diagnosed, the better the patient’s prognosis will be. When lung cancer is misdiagnosed or when diagnosis is delayed, a patient is left with fewer and less effective treatment options. A report published by the American Medical Association ranked lung cancer as one of the top three most-misdiagnosed cancers.

Types of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is typically classified into one of two types:

  • Non-small cell: The most common form of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer is further classified into one of three subtypes — adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Small cell: Accounts for about 15 percent of lung cancers

Other far less common types of lung cancer include adenoid cystic carcinoma and lung carcinoid tumor.

Causes of Lung Cancer

Arguably, the strongest risk factor for developing lung cancer is smoking. Medical experts pinpoint the carcinogens in cigarettes as being at fault for damaging the DNA in lung cells.

Of course, plenty of non-smokers also develop lung cancer. Other causes and risk factors for lung cancer include exposure to secondhand smoke and exposure to carcinogens such as asbestos, arsenic, and nickel (often at the workplace).

Researchers have also identified genetic markers that may place people at greater risk for lung cancer; people with family who have been diagnosed with lung cancer have an increased chance of developing the disease themselves.

Causes of Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

Unfortunately, in some cases lung cancer is not diagnosed until the cancer has already reached a more advanced stage, where patients have a poorer five-year survival rate. Reasons why diagnosis of cancer may be delayed or why the cancer might be misdiagnosed include:

  • Failure to identify symptoms that should place lung cancer on the differential diagnosis, or ascribing symptoms to more common benign causes such as respiratory infections or lung abscesses
  • Failure to order appropriate testing, especially after abnormal findings
  • Failure to refer a patient to appropriate specialists or to seek a second opinion
  • Failure to appropriate interpret test and exam results

When lung cancer is not timely diagnosed or is misdiagnosed due to negligent mistakes made by a patient’s healthcare providers, the patient suffers harm in the form of allowing his or her lung cancer to progress, which means missing out on the opportunity to receive more effective treatment or means having to undergo more intensive and/or painful treatments; it also means the patient’s chances at a five-year survival window go down, and that due to the need for more intensive treatments a patient’s quality of life suffering during treatment. As a result, a patient who suffers from a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of lung cancer due to a physician’s error should be entitled to compensation for the physical and emotional harm and economic losses he or she has and will have to endure.

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Cancer Misdiagnosis Case in Pennsylvania

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh cancer misdiagnosis attorneys at Berger & Lagnese, LLC are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout Pennsylvania, including Indiana, New Castle, Uniontown, and Washington. Call us today at (412) 471-4300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 310 Grant St., Suite 720, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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