Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Each year, over 220,000 people develop lung cancer and nearly 160,000 die. Lung cancer kills more people than breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer combined. While this death toll is staggering, the chances of survival substantially increase if diagnosed and treated early.
When it comes to lung cancer, every day is precious. An accurate and timely diagnosis is the most important factor for survival. While lung cancer is often treatable if diagnosed early, untreated cancer will grow and claim the patient’s life.
Types of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is a cancer of the respiratory system in which abnormal lung cells grow uncontrollably and devastate healthy cells in the lungs.
Most lung cancer cases are either non-small cell lung cancer or small cell lung cancer. Non-small lung cancers include adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and bronchoalveolar carcinoma. Small cell lung cancer invades the small cells in lung tissue and tends to be more aggressive.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer in its early stages may not produce any symptoms. As the cancer cells progress, symptoms may include chronic cough with bloody sputum, difficulty breathing, and respiratory infections.
Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Recurrent pneumonia
- Recurrent bronchitis
- Neck and facial swelling
- Chronic chest pain
- Tiredness, weakness, or fatigue
Individuals who smoke or who have a history of smoking are most likely to develop lung cancer. Smoking causes 90% of lung cancer in men and 80% of lung cancer in women. Half of these incidents occur in former smokers.
15% of lung cancers occur in individuals who have never smoked. Second-hand smoke and air pollution increase the chances of developing lung cancer. Additionally, people who are exposed to asbestos, uranium, arsenic, chromium, nickel, acrylonitrile, beryllium, cadmium, chloromethyl ether, silica, radon, and diesel fumes have an elevated risk of lung cancer. Lastly, family history may indicate that someone is more likely to develop cancer.
How Lung Cancer is Diagnosed
Doctors should always attain a patient’s history and listen to the patient’s complaints. To determine the cause of symptoms, the doctor should evaluate the patient’s medical history, smoking history, exposure to environmental and occupational substances, and family history. The patient’s complaints and these factors can help a doctor determine if more testing or studying is needed.
Patients with symptoms of lung cancer should undergo a physical exam. Chest x-rays are frequently used to search for abnormalities. CT scans may also be used to search for abnormalities. Once abnormalities are found, bronchoscopy, needle aspiration, or thoracentesis can be used to determine if the abnormal tissue is cancerous.
How Failures to Diagnose Lung Cancer Occur
Lung cancer is frequently undiscovered until it is too late. While this may be tragically unavoidable in some instances, oftentimes a doctor may be at fault for failing to diagnose a condition. Some common examples of how failures to diagnose include the following:
- Misdiagnosis as a less serious condition such as bronchitis
- Failure to order testing
- Failure to properly read x-rays
- Failure to identify high-risk patients
- Failure to appropriately track an identified abnormality
At Gupta Law Group, we will perform a thorough review to find out what went wrong during your treatment. We will examine your medical records and test results for evidence that further testing was appropriate or symptoms were missed. If needed, we will work with independent medical experts to determine the truth. We can help you get answers and a measure of justice for you or your loved one.
Contact our Lung Cancer Malpractice Attorney
For a free consultation – cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. You pay no fees unless we recover damages for you.