Why Do Cervical Cancers Go Undiagnosed?
June 30, 2022
Cervical cancer is a severe medical condition affecting many women and their families yearly. However, it is one of the most easily detected and preventable forms of cancer. Undiagnosed or misdiagnosed cervical cancer is dangerous. Not only does it result in more intensive treatment, but it also drastically decreases the survivability of the disease.
There are several reasons why cervical cancer might go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed. If a treating medical provider’s negligence causes the woman to be harmed, she may have a claim for medical malpractice.
Cervical cancer can be prevented through regular screenings, and precancerous changes to the cervix can often be detected through routine pap smears and pelvic examinations. Unfortunately, some cases of cervical cancer still go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed until effective treatments are no longer an option.
There are several reasons why a patient’s cervical cancer may be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, including:
- Doctor ignores symptoms: A doctor may discount the patient’s symptoms of cervical cancer, including unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge, blood in urine or stool, unusual vaginal odor, pelvic or abdominal pain, and swollen legs.
- Doctor fails to diagnose symptoms: In these cases, the doctor acknowledges the patient’s complaint of the symptoms but fails to consider cervical cancer in the differential diagnosis.
- Doctor fails to examine or refer: A doctor may fail to recommend regular pelvic exams and pap smears.
- Pap smear collection: Errors can be made in collecting a pap smear specimen, which affects the accuracy of the results.
- Lab errors: Labs may make errors in conducting a pathology of pap smear specimens, affecting the accuracy and interpretation of the results.
- Doctor fails to refer to a specialist for follow-up testing: In the event of an abnormal pap smear, a doctor’s failure to recommend the patient to a specialist for follow-up testing could result in possible cervical cancer going undiagnosed.
Misread Pap Smears
The prognosis for cervical cancer depends on what stage it is in when it is discovered and treated. The survival rate changes dramatically by stage, so cervical cancer must be diagnosed as soon as it can be detected and treated properly.
For many years, routine pap smear analysis has been considered the best way for patients to ensure early detection of possible cervical cancers. Critics are saying that new methods of pap smear analysis have led to an increase of misread pap smears and, as a result, misdiagnosed cervical cancers. New technology allows slides to be pre-screened, so precancerous cells may be omitted from the selection of sample areas that the technicians review.
There are also opinions that the presence of new technology raises expectations of pap smear efficiency. Technicians may be under pressure and rushing to review twice as many slides in a day, which may be another reason for cases of undiagnosed or misdiagnosed cervical cancer. In the past, a person analyzed each slide in its entirety. The cost-cutting measures put in place more often now may be putting women at risk for cervical cancer. Providers fail to diagnose early, and the first diagnosis may have already spread to nearby organs.
Precancerous cells are evident before the existence of cancer. When the first cervical cancer diagnosis finds an active or advanced form of the disease, a misread pap smear likely happened somewhere along the line. Misread pap smears often result in significant harm and suffering for a woman and her loved ones and substantial medical expenses.
If you believe you have been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with cervical cancer, you should obtain a second opinion from a gynecologist or oncologist and be sure you have the opportunity for the most effective treatments. You should also contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who will be able to guide you through the legal progress during an already overwhelming and challenging time.
More women diagnosed with advanced stages of cervical cancer potentially linked to a false negative pap smear have been coming forward. It is important to remember there are many reasons cervical cancer can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and several parties or entities may be held liable.
If cervical cancer goes untreated because it was undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, there are many matters for you to consider with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, including:
- More aggressive medical treatment is likely required.
- Ongoing and future losses of income.
- Additional physical pain and emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life due to the debilitating effects of more advanced treatment or reduced life expectancy.
We Are Dedicated to Helping Those Harmed by Medical Negligence
Galfand Berger LLP has been helping clients harmed by medical negligence for 75 years. Some of our past cases:
- Our client suffered a severe infection. After our client suffered bone fractures from a fall, his doctor sent him home without recognizing his signs and symptoms of a severe infection. The doctor’s failure to diagnose the infection caused major complications for our client. We settled the matter and recovered $1.3 million dollars on behalf of our client.
- Our client’s family member died as a result of a heart attack. The family member’s doctor had failed to diagnose signs of a heart problem and instead told the family member that he was suffering from indigestion. As a result, the family member died of a heart attack. We settled the matter for $800,000 on behalf of our client.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Are Committed to Helping Cervical Cancer Patients Harmed by Medical Negligence
Many patients with cervical cancer suffer harm each year due to the negligence of health care providers. Our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP are committed to helping innocent patients harmed by medical mistakes. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.