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The damaging effects of a missed lung cancer diagnosis

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2021 | Failure To Diagnose

Early detection is often critical to the outcomes and treatment potential for lung cancer patients in Massachusetts. This type of cancer is often aggressive, spreading quickly throughout the body and leading to serious illness and even death. Lung cancer is, like other forms of cancer, a progressive disease that worsens with time. However, far too many patients do not receive the diagnosis that could have helped them receive effective treatment in a timely fashion.

Missed cancer in radiographic scans

There are a number of factors that may contribute to a missed lung cancer diagnosis, which can be a form of medical malpractice. In most cases, the testing technique used to detect lung cancer is either a low-dose or regular CT scan. Some radiologists may overlook a cancerous lesion on the lungs or confuse it for a bone, blood vessel or other structure in the chest. Reading a CT scan can be difficult, and even conscientious radiologists adhering to the standard of care can sometimes miss a cancer diagnosis. After all, 90% of lung cancer misdiagnoses take place due to misreading of chest imagery. However, others may be negligent or careless, improperly positioning the patient or performing a cursory search rather than a thorough examination.

Failure to order tests

In other cases, primary physicians may fail to order the necessary tests to scan their patients for lung cancer, even if they know that they have significant risk factors such as long-term smoking and an age of 55 or above. In some cases, patients at a high risk of lung cancer may speak to their doctors about pain in the chest or difficulty breathing and still not receive testing designed to detect lung cancer.

Without proper screening and careful attention to detail when assessing patient images, lung cancer may be missed. In some of these cases, the failure to diagnose cancer may rise to the level of medical malpractice that is directly responsible for the patient’s worsened health.