WHAT IS A FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE PROSTATE CANCER?
A failure to diagnose prostate cancer is a form of medical malpractice in which a doctor fails to do the proper steps in order to determine that a man has prostate cancer. When a doctor or other healthcare provider fails to diagnose prostate cancer, it can result in serious injury or death to the patient. There are specific steps a doctor should take and certain medical information that a doctor should obtain in order to properly diagnose and care for a patient who may have prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second most widespread form of cancer today, but most men survive the disease. Nearly 100% of men survive when the disease is caught early. While 233,000 new diagnoses are expected in 2014, nearly 2.5 million men in America have survived the disease.
Unfortunately, many men die because their prostate cancer was not found in time. Once the cancer spreads beyond the prostate, the survival rate plummets to only 28%. According to the American Cancer Association, 24,480 men are expected to die due to prostate cancer in 2014. It is the second greatest cancerous killer of men today and fifth largest cancerous killer overall. Although these deaths are sometimes beyond the doctor’s control, this tragedy is often caused by a doctor’s failure to properly diagnose or properly treat prostate cancer.
WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that develops in a man’s prostate. The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports fluid for the male reproductive system. Due to the location of the prostate, an enlarged prostate may squeeze the urethra and slow or stop the normal flow of urine.
Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and initially remains confined to the prostate gland. It can take several years for prostate cancer cells to spread and cause harm. If detected and treated while it is still confined to the prostate, there is an excellent chance of survival.
While we do not know exactly what causes prostate cancer, several risk factors have been identified to determine men who are at higher risk.
- Advanced Age. Most people who develop prostate cancer are senior citizens
- Family history of prostate cancer
- African-American ethnicity. African Americans tend to develop prostate cancer at younger ages. Their cases tend to include faster-growing cancerous cells.
- An enlarged prostate
- Exposure to sexually transmitted viral agents
- Exposure to heavy metal and chemicals
- A diet high in saturated fat
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Insufficient amounts of vitamin D
PROSTATE CANCER SYMPTOMS
Several signs and symptoms may indicate prostate cancer or another prostate condition. Men encountering such symptoms should seek medical attention. These symptoms should cause a doctor or urologist to undergo further investigation to determine if there is a prostate issue.
- A weak flow of urine
- Frequent urination (especially at night)
- Sudden urge to urinate
- Pain or blood while urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away
- Shortness of breath, tiredness, fast heartbeat, dizziness, or pale skin caused by anemia
- Erectile Dysfunction
LONG-TERM CONSEUQENCES OF PROSTATE CANCER
While prostate cancer is generally slow-moving and has an excellent prognosis if detected early, it can have serious consequences if not treated in time.
Untreated prostate cancer may spread (metastasize). Once the cancer spreads throughout the body, the chances of death significantly increase. Prostate cancer that spreads to the bones may also cause pain or easier fractures.
Due to the location of the prostate, prostate cancer and its treatment may also result in urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction.
HOW TO DIAGNOSE PROSTATE CANCER
Simple tests are available to diagnose prostate cancer in its early phases. While medical organizations differ on whether men without prostate cancer symptoms should be tested, the American Cancer Association recommends that a discussion about screening should take place at 50 for men at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years. Screening is usually appropriate for men exhibiting symptoms or risk factors. While these tests do not provide 100% accuracy, they can diagnose most cases before trouble develops.
There are two primary tests used to screen for prostate cancer. These tests include a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal exam. Several other tests are available if the first two tests suggest that further analysis is necessary.
The PSA blood test draws blood to measure the level of an antigen substance made by the prostate. While PSA is naturally produced by the prostate, elevated levels may indicate that something is wrong with the prostate. A high test result tells the doctors that more testing is needed to determine if cancer is present.
Digital rectal exams are physical exams of the rectum. The doctor or nurse inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum. Because the rectum is thin, the doctor or nurse can feel the prostate through the rectal wall and search for lumps or abnormal areas. This test is limited by how far the human can reach and feel. It may also be ineffective in finding small abnormalities.
Once an abnormality is found, a prostate biopsy may be ordered. Biopsies take a sample of the suspicious tissue and analyze it under a microscope. This test may be accompanied with an ultrasound to allow the doctor to see into the prostate gland. The biopsy, if properly conducted, should allow a doctor to make a diagnosis. However, as some biopsies do not detect all cases, an additional biopsy may be appropriate if the test does not find cancer and the patient is experiencing symptoms or has an elevated PSA reading. A negative biopsy does not necessarily mean that cancer is not present.
WAYS TO TREAT PROSTATE CANCER
Prostate cancer is highly treatable if diagnosed early. Treatment options include active monitoring (foregoing treatment while monitoring the cancer), several forms of surgery, freezing the tumor, heating the tumor, radiation treatment, chemotherapy (using drugs to kill rapidly growing cells), hormone therapy (impeding the body’s production or use of testosterone), and immunotherapy (using body’s own immune cells, genetically engineering them, then injecting them).
Generally speaking, active monitoring and surgery are the most common forms. If treated early, surgery can usually remove the cancerous cells before they spread elsewhere in the body. Active monitoring may be appropriate for older patients with a life-expectancy shorter than the expected time it will take for the cancer to become harmful. The other options are more appropriate for more serious or recurring prostate cancer.
HOW A FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE PROSTATE CANCER CAN OCCUR
Despite the fact that prostate cancer is usually discoverable and treatable, over 24,000 men are expected to die this year. While a missed diagnosis does not necessarily mean that a doctor was negligent, a doctor may be held liable if the doctor or urologist failed to live up to the standard of care. Some examples of malpractice include the following:
- Failing to ask questions regarding symptoms or family history
- Not monitoring or screening patients with a family history of prostate cancer
- Not suggesting or discussing prostate diagnostic testing for men over 50
- Ignoring the symptoms of prostate cancer
- Failure to conduct tests properly
- Ignoring PSA blood test or biopsy results
- Doing a digital rectal exam too quickly to find abnormalities
- Failing to perform a biopsy when prostate tests are abnormal
- Failure to perform more sophisticated biopsy tests if symptoms or PSA blood test irregularities are present.
- Failure to follow up with the patient if something is wrong
- Failure to consider cancer as the cause of urologic symptoms
- Failure to properly monitor and treat if active monitoring is selected
DID YOU SUFFER DUE TO A FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE PROSTATE CANCER?
Medical malpractice has occurred when the healthcare provider provided medical care that was below the accepted professional standards. It is generally challenging to prove that any type of medical malpractice has occurred. In order to get the answers and compensation you deserve, you need a skilled and experienced Medical Malpractice attorney on your side.
Because of how challenging it is to prove that medical malpractice has occurred, we develop a plan that gives you the best chance to a good outcome. This often includes getting the medical records quickly and having those records reviewed by medical experts.
If you or a loved one was harmed or died due to a failure to diagnose or properly treat prostate cancer, you deserve to know the truth about how the cancer developed. If you believe that you have been the victim of a failure to diagnose prostate cancer, and our investigation supports this type of medical malpractice, our firm can help get you the compensation you need and deserve to help offset all of your harms, losses, and damages.
CONTACT OUR FIRM FOR A FREE CASE EVALUATION
If you believe that your doctor or urologist failed to diagnose your prostate cancer in a timely fashion, contact Gupta Law Group to schedule a free consultation with an experienced lawyer. Cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, which means that you owe us nothing unless your claim is successful and results in compensation.