Lymphoma is a form of cancer that develops in the lymphocyte, a type of white blood cell. The American Cancer Society states that non-Hodgkin lymphoma is an especially common cancer in the United States. The ACS predicts that in 2021, doctors will diagnose 81,560 new cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the US, and 20,720 people will lose their lives to the disease. Hodgkin lymphoma, on the other hand, is expected to be diagnosed approximately 8,830 times in 2021, and approximately 960 people are expected to lose their lives to the disease.
While both lymphomas start in lymphocytes, they are differentiated by, among other things, the subtype of lymphocytes they develop in, as well as the ways they spread and the treatments they respond to. More specifically, non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be identified by the presence of a type of cells called Reed-Sternberg cells. Additionally, Hodgkin lymphoma generally develops in the patient’s upper body, while non-Hodgkin lymphoma may develop in lymph nodes anywhere in the patient’s body. As with other cancers, early and accurate diagnosis of lymphoma is critical to positive outcomes for the patient.
What Are Causes and Symptoms of Lymphoma?
The causes of lymphomas are still largely unknown to science. According to the American Cancer Society, some experts have found a link between Hodgkin lymphoma and the Epstein-Barr virus, which can cause genetic mutations in cells called B lymphocytes in the patients it infects, sometimes spurring the development of Reed-Sternberg cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been connected with inherited DNA mutations in patients with a family history of lymphoma, as well as acquired DNA changes that occur when patients are exposed to “radiation, cancer-causing chemicals, or infections,” though the ACS notes that some genetic mutations have no apparent cause.
Both Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma share symptoms with many less serious conditions, making it critical for doctors to take adequate steps to rule out lymphoma before they give patients a more benign diagnosis. Hodgkin lymphoma is often associated with enlarged lymph nodes, which present as a mass of tissue in the patient’s neck, underarm, or groin area, according to the American Cancer Society. Hodgkin lymphoma is also known to cause fevers, night sweats, and sudden, unplanned-for weight loss. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma presents infections, chest pains, respiratory issues, feelings of fullness, swelling in the abdomen, loss of weight, feverishness, bruising, bleeding, enlarged spleen or liver, vomiting, dizziness, masses under the skin, and even seizures and other neurological issues.
Are There Screenings For Lymphoma?
Experts do not currently advise any screening tests for lymphoma.
How Is Lymphoma Diagnosed?
When a doctor suspects lymphoma, they will typically conduct a biopsy of the affected lymph nodes. They may also conduct radiological tests like x-rays, ultrasounds, MRI scans, PT scans, and CT scans.
How Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Lymphoma?
Misdiagnosis can occur at any step of the patient journey. A doctor who fails to take a patient’s full medical and family history may never become aware of relevant risk factors, and neglect to consider lymphoma as a possible diagnosis for the patient’s symptoms. Doctors may order incorrect tests or fail to follow up on the results of correctly ordered tests; lab technicians may misinterpret test results, or mix up one patient’s results with another. Not all misdiagnoses are medical malpractice, which typically involves a doctor failing to uphold their duty of care to the patient in a way that causes harm that results in damages to the patient. Still, negligent misdiagnoses can have very serious and even life-threatening consequences for the patient, resulting in delayed treatment of a condition that becomes more dangerous as it spreads.
If you or your loved one are a victim of failure to diagnose lymphoma, you may be entitled to recover damages for medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost wages, loss of future earnings, anguish and emotional suffering, and more. Medical misdiagnosis cases can be highly complex, requiring not only experienced counsel but also knowledgeable medical experts. The New York medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan have decades of experience holding practitioners accountable for their negligence. Our seasoned team of lawyers and experts will ensure you receive the peace of mind you deserve as we aggressively pursue your case. Please reach out to our lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.