Most lung cancers begin in the bronchi of the lungs. The main types of lung cancer are:
- Small-cell lung cancer (occurring in 20 percent of all lung cancer cases)
- Nonsmall-cell lung cancer (also called NSCLC), the most common type of lung cancer
- Squamous cell carcinoma (also called epidermoid cancer, occurring in 30 percent of all lung cancer cases)
Some cancers are made up of both types and are called mixed small-cell/large-cell cancer. Cancer sometimes starts somewhere else in the body and spreads to the lungs; it is called metastatic cancer to the lung.
Lung Cancer Causes
There are several causes of lung cancer, with smoking being the leading cause. Smoking causes lung cancer in 90 percent of men and 80 percent of women diagnosed with the disease. Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than men who do not smoke, and female smokers are 13 times more likely to develop the disease. Even though smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, the majority of people currently diagnosed with lung cancer do not smoke: 50 percent of these cancers occur in former smokers and 15 percent in those who have never smoked. Other causes of lung cancer include secondhand smoke, smoking marijuana (helps cancer cells grow), high levels of air pollution, drinking water containing high levels of arsenic, a history of radiation therapy to the lungs, and working with or near asbestos or other harmful chemicals or odors.
Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Many of us know of someone whose lung cancer was diagnosed later than it should have been. As with other cancers, the sooner lung cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the patient's prognosis. When diagnosis is delayed, negatively affecting the patient's prognosis and treatment, there may be actionable malpractice. However, not every case of delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis constitutes medical malpractice.
When making a lung cancer diagnosis, a physician will typically look for enlarged lymph nodes, abdomen or liver. It is also necessary to run diagnostic tests, including a chest X-ray to look for tumors or growth, a sputum test (coughing up phlegm) to detect cancer cells and a spirometry (testing a patient's pulmonary function) to identify any obstruction or narrowing of the airways. In addition, a biopsy may be required. After the tests and the doctor's examination of the slides confirm the diagnosis, the doctor sets up the proper course of treatment.
Lung cancer is often misdiagnosed as a benign condition or a less harmful disease or is not detected at all. Lung cancer misdiagnosis is the fourth most claimed malpractice injury. Doctors may diagnose a patient with chronic cough with bronchitis without ordering the proper diagnostic test. To determine whether your claim is actionable, you need to speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
Call for a Free Consultation
If you believe your doctor may have delayed diagnosis and/or treatment of lung cancer, please contact the attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers in New York for a free consultation. Call 315-479-9000 or contact us online. We offer evening and weekend appointments as well as home and hospital visits.