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Failure to Diagnose Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in the cervix. They typically grow very slowly and may stay confined to one area of the cervix for many years. Before cancer appears in the cervix, the cells of the cervix go through changes known as dysplasia, in which abnormal cells begin to appear in the cervical tissue. Over time, if not destroyed or removed, the abnormal cells may become cancer cells and start to grow and spread more deeply into the cervix and to surrounding areas. If not detected and treated, this cancer can spread to the uterus, the bladder, and other surrounding organs. Once it spreads beyond the cervix, this cancer is very difficult to treat.

The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 14,480 women in the US will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2021, and approximately 4,290 women will die of the disease. While cervical cancer used to be a highly common cause of death among women, its fatality rate has decreased with the development of preventative screening measures such as the Pap smear and the HPV test. When detected early, cervical cancer is generally treatable. When detected late, chances of survival diminish. If you or a family member was impacted by a doctor’s failure to diagnose cervical cancer, please contact Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers, DeFrancisco & Falgiatano for a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys. We also have satellite offices throughout Upstate New York.

Cervical cancer is often called “the silent killer” because the early stages of the disease often lack noticeable symptoms. When symptoms do occur, it’s usually in the later stages of the disease, at which point the survival rate is much lower. Detecting cervical cancer as early as possible is the best way to increase a patient’s chances of successful treatment. A physician’s failure to diagnose cervical cancer or the delayed diagnosis of cervical cancer can result in serious, even fatal consequences for the patient. While it’s harder to diagnose in earlier stages because of the lack of symptoms, it’s not impossible. In some cases, a doctor’s failure to diagnose cervical cancer may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. These cases generally result from one of the following scenarios:

  • Failure to properly perform a Pap test
  • Incorrectly interpret Pap test or biopsy results
  • Not beginning treatment promptly

There are 2 main ways of detecting cervical cancer. A Pap test, or pap smear, is a medical procedure in which a doctor collects cervical cells to examine them for abnormalities. A pelvic exam is a physical examination by the doctor that includes checking for abnormalities in the shape and size of the vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bladder. Women should have their first Pap test by around age 21. Until they are in their 30s, all women should have a Pap test every 2 years. If they have 3 normal Pap tests consecutively, then after the age of 30 they need only to have a Pap test every 3 years unless they have a weakened immune system caused by certain health conditions.

Cervical cancer is ranked into 5 main stages. These are:

  • Stage 0 is when the cancer is confined to the superficial layer of the cervix.
  • Stage I is more abnormal cell growth, still confined to the cervix.
  • Stage II is when cancer spreads beyond the cervix.
  • Stage III is when cancer spreads into the lower portion of the uterus.
  • Stage IV is when cancer has spread beyond the pelvis and into the bladder or other organs.

There are 3 basic options for treating cervical cancer: removing the uterus (hysterectomy); radiation therapy; and chemotherapy. The type of treatment will depend on the stage of cancer. A failure to diagnose cervical cancer or a delay in the diagnosis of cervical cancer while in its earlier stages typically means that a much more aggressive course of treatment is required.

If your doctor failed to detect your cancer when a reasonable doctor would have, or a technician failed to correctly interpret your test results, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain, suffering, and medical expenses. Every case is different, so you should consult with an experienced Upstate New York medical malpractice attorney at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano to determine what your options are. represent injured patients in communities including Syracuse, Rochester, Elmira, Auburn, Ithaca, Cooperstown, Binghamton, Oswego, Herkimer, Norwich, Delhi, Cortland, Oneida, Lowville, Watertown, Oswego, Utica, Wampsville, Canandaigua, Cooperstown, and Lyons. Call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form to discuss your case.

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