The American Cancer Society predicts that in the US in 2021, doctors will diagnose 66,570 cases of uterine cancer (that is, endometrial cancer and uterine sarcomas), and 12,940 people will lose their lives to uterine cancer. Data published by the ACS shows that when uterine cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stage, patients have a five-year survival rate of 95%. This rate that decreases the later the cancer is diagnosed, making it critical for medical practitioners to detect the condition early in its development. Failure to diagnose uterine or endometrial cancer can result in delayed treatment and death.
What Are Symptoms of Uterine Cancer?
Like certain other cancers, endometrial cancer—a term that is generally used interchangeably with uterine cancer, though the terms refer to slightly different conditions—can present symptoms that are also associated with other conditions. Since higher survival rates for the disease are associated with earlier detection, an early, accurate diagnosis is critical. Symptoms commonly associated with uterine cancer include vaginal bleeding; vaginal spotting; other unusual vaginal discharge; pelvic pain; an unusual mass of tissue in the pelvis; and sudden, unplanned-for loss of weight.
While it’s not yet known what causes endometrial/uterine cancer, common risk factors include obesity; medications or conditions (like pregnancy or ovarian tumors) that influence a person’s hormones; estrogen therapy; type 2 diabetes; using an intrauterine device; the use of radiation therapy to treat a different type of cancer; and hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer, a condition that puts women at increased risk for uterine cancer.
Are There Screenings for Uterine Cancer?
There are currently no tests to screen patients with no symptoms for uterine cancer. Medical experts recommend that patients experiencing symptoms that may be associated with uterine cancer promptly see a physician. Unfortunately, screening measures used for cervical cancer are not considered effective when it comes to detecting uterine cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Nor are pelvic exams, at least not for early-stage uterine cancer.
Patients who report symptoms of uterine cancer may receive one or more of several possible tests, according to the ACS. Physicians typically conduct a pelvic exam, and they may take sonic imaging with a pelvic ultrasound or transvaginal ultrasound. An endometrial biopsy takes a tissue sample from the patient’s endometrium for testing; a hysteroctopy is a procedure uses a thin, lighted tube with a camera at the end to examine the uterus and take tissue samples; and a dilation and curettage procedure involves the opening of the cervix so the physician can take a sample of uterine tissue. The physician then sends the tissue to their lab for examination.
Is Uterine Cancer Preventable?
Medical professionals recommend a few ways of reducing one’s risk of developing uterine cancer, though there is no known method of completely preventing it. According to the American Cancer Society, available research leads experts to recommend an active lifestyle to stay at a healthy weight; discussing with one’s physician whether estrogen therapy for menopause symptoms may increase one’s risk of uterine cancer; seeking early treatment for possible pre-cancer conditions in the uterus, such as endometrial hypersplasia or abnormal bleeding; and discussing possible surgeries with your physician if you have hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer, which increases your risk of uterine cancer.
How Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Uterine Cancer?
As with other conditions, uterine cancer misdiagnosis can occur in many stages of the patient journey. In some cases, the physician fails to consider that the presenting symptoms may be caused by uterine cancer; in others, the fail to order the proper tests, or to consult the proper specialists. Lab technicians may misinterpret results or inaccurately record results in the patient’s medical records. In each case, the ultimate result is an incorrect or delayed diagnosis that in turn delays critical treatment. Not all misdiagnoses are medical malpractice, but all negligent failures to diagnose uterine cancer put the patient’s life at risk.
What Can I Do If a Doctor Failed to Diagnose My Uterine Cancer?
The victims of uterine/endometrial cancer misdiagnosis generally need to demonstrate that they had a doctor-patient relationship with their doctor, and their doctor had a duty of care to them; that their doctor failed to uphold the duty of care; that this failure resulted in harm to the patient; and that this failure resulted in damages. If you or a loved one have suffered a negligent failure to diagnose uterine cancer, you may be entitled to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and future earnings, and more.
The medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan have decades of experience holding New York medical practitioners accountable for their negligence. Our seasoned team of lawyers and medical experts will thoroughly examine your claim to evaluate whether a negligent uterine cancer misdiagnosis occurred, and we will do everything we can to ensure you get the peace of mind you deserve as we aggressively pursue justice. Please contact our medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.