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The failure to diagnose cancer could be medical malpractice

Detecting many types of cancer in their early stages often increases the chances that a patient will survive. The failure to diagnose cancer in a timely manner could ultimately be a death sentence for the patient. The fact that the diagnosis came too late could be construed as medical malpractice by courts here in Oregon and across the country.

In some cases, physicians mistake early indicators of cancer for other conditions. No further testing is done to make sure that the diagnosis is correct. It is only later -- when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body -- that it is detected. By then, treatment options are limited and might not be successful.

Failing to order preliminary screening tests can delay the diagnosis of cancer. However, the potential for errors does not stop there. If the results of any tests are not accurately interpreted, the cancer will continue to grow and spread unchecked. At that point, the prognosis could be terminal.

An individual's death is rarely without collateral damage. Family members are left behind without the love and support of the person. More than that, however, is the fact that surviving family members could lose a source of financial support as well. In addition, the patient is forced to endure pain and suffering -- along with knowing that he or she could die -- that could have been avoided.

A failure to diagnose cancer in a timely manner robs individuals and their families of a future. Establishing that the standard of care was not met could result in an Oregon court awarding damages to the patient and/or the family. Any monetary restitution received could alleviate the financial burdens brought on by a devastating -- and potentially terminal -- illness.

Source:, "Righting the Wrong: Failure to Diagnose Cancer Lawsuits", April 4, 2016

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