Failure to Diagnose Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer occurs when the cells of the testicle grow uncontrollably. Most cases of testicular cancel begin in the testicle's germ cells, which create sperm cells. Less common forms of testicular cancer begin developing in the stroma, or connective and hormone-creating tissues. The American Cancer Society predicts that in the US in 2021, there will be 9,470 new cases of testicular cancer, and approximately 440 people will lose their lives to the disease. As you can see, testicular cancer is an uncommon disease that affects about one in 250 men, and it is generally considered highly treatable—especially if it's diagnosed in its early stages, but even if it's diagnosed later. Still, as with all cancers, an early and accurate diagnosis is critical. Medical practitioners who fail to diagnose the disease may cause long-term or irreparable harm to their patients.

What Are Symptoms of Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer presents symptoms that may be caused by other conditions as well, which makes it critical for medical practitioners to perform all necessary tests and diagnostic procedures as they pursue a diagnosis. Common symptoms include a lump or mass in the patient's testicle; swelling or growth of the testicle; testicular pain; testicular aching; and even growth or soreness in the breasts, according to the American Cancer Society. Other possible symptoms include the development of puberty at an unusually young age. In cases where the cancer has spread beyond the testicles, patients may experience pain in their lower back, chest pain, respiratory symptoms, abdominal pain, and headaches or other neurological symptoms.

Are There Screenings for Testicular Cancer?

Early stage testicular cancer often presents as a lump or mass in the testicle. Medical professionals recommend that men regularly perform testicular self exams in addition to receiving exams during their regular medical visits. Men who detect abnormalities during their testicular self-exams are advised to seek medical attention. It's possible that lumps and other abnormalities may be caused by non-cancerous conditions, which can usually be determined with noninvasive tests.

Doctors generally use a few tests to diagnose testicular cancer. After performing physical examinations, they will likely use an ultrasound to determine whether a lump or other abnormality is in fact a tumor, according to the American Cancer Society. Then there are blood test tests which may be able to identify proteins caused by certain cancers. Doctors may use other imaging tests, like chest x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, bone scans, and PET scans. Finally, they may perform a biopsy in which they take a tissue sample from the tumor, but the ACS notes that this "is rarely done for a testicular tumor because it might risk spreading the cancer" and other tests are generally effective at determining whether an abnormality is caused by cancer.

How Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Testicular Cancer?

Because testicular cancer shares symptoms with many less serious conditions, such as inflammations caused by viruses or bacteria, medical practitioners who fail to perform adequate testing may misdiagnose their patients, causing a delay in critical treatment until the cancer spreads and the symptoms evolve. Doctors may fail to perform a full medical history, missing risk factors that suggest the patient may have an increased chance of developing testicular cancer. They may fail to consult a specialist or decline to conduct certain tests. In some cases, a doctor or lab technician may misinterpret the results of a test or even improperly conduct the test; in others, they may fail to correctly note the results of the test on the patient’s records, causing failures to follow up on te results.

The victims of testicular cancer misdiagnosis generally have to demonstrate that they had a doctor-patient relationship in which their doctor owed them a duty of care; that their doctor failed to uphold this duty of care in a way that a reasonable, competent professional would not have done under similar circumstances; that this breach caused the patient harm; and that this harm caused damages for the patient. If the victim can demonstrate these things, they may be able to recover damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, lost future earnings, and other forms of compensation.

Medical malpractice cases can be highly complex, requiring deft, experienced legal counsel and the testimony of expert medical witnesses. If you or your loved one are the victim of testicular cancer misdiagnosis, the medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan may be able to help. Our attorneys have decades of experience holding negligent medical practitioners accountable, while providing victims of medical malpractice the peace of mind they deserve. Please contact our team today to schedule a free consultation.

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