As if being told you have cancer is not devastating enough, being told when it's reached an advanced stage is life-threatening as well. Cervical, endometrial and breast cancers are often go misdiagnosed.
While most public health organizations recommend that women ages 21 through 65 have a pap smear performed every three years, many fail to do that. Despite it being one of the few ways of diagnosing cervical cancer, some doctors fail to recommend a pap smear until the cancer has advanced, thus resulting in a delayed diagnosis.
Another reason the diagnosis of cervical cancer may be delayed is if the pap smear is not performed properly, and thus, the abnormal cancer cells are not collected. A doctor may also misdiagnose the female patient's symptoms as having to do with her menstrual cycle, when in reality, they can be attributed to cervical cancer instead.
With uterine, also known as endometrial, cancer, it's different in that it often can't be detected by a doctor performing a pap smear. While, oftentimes, a sample taken during a pap smear may show some abormalities, a definitive diagnosis can only be confirmed if either an endometrial biopsy or transvaginal ultrasound are performed.
Unlike many other cancers, women diagnosed with endometrial cancer have a high probability of having their cancer cured if it's detected early. Like cervical cancer, though, doctors often misdiagnose symptoms of uterine cancer. Because it often afflicts menopausal women, it's not all that uncommon that doctors misdignose the symptoms a woman is having as menopause as opposed to endometrial cancer.
In terms of breast cancer, many women find lumps while performing monthly self-exams at home. If that doesn't happen, then doctors find it themselves when either performing an annual mammogram or clinical breast examination. The diagnosis is generally confirmed using MRI imaging or a biopsy of the suspected mass.
When breast cancer diagnoses are delayed, it's often because the woman's tissue was too dense or because a doctor didn't recommend for the patient to have a mammogram, despite being over 40 years old. In other cases, a pathologist may not be experienced enough in detecting breast cancer.
If your cancer was detected late because of your doctor's inability to recognize the symptoms or order appropriate testing to render an earlier diagnosis, then a Tucson medical malpractice attorney may advise you about your right to file a lawsuit.
Source: Consumer Safety, "Failure to diagnose and cancer misdiagnosis," Lindsey Pasieka, accessed Nov. 24, 2017