Failure to Diagnose Lung Cancer

Experienced Failure to Diagnose Lung Cancer Attorneys

Protecting New Jersey patients harmed by a lung cancer misdiagnosis

Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths among men and women in the United States. According the National Cancer Institute, more than 230,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and of those, more than 150,000 die from it. The key to successfully fighting lung cancer is early detection. Lung cancer symptoms can share the characteristics of other conditions, so proper testing by doctors is essential. The New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP represent individuals who were harmed by their doctor’s failure to diagnose their lung cancer. Feel free to reach out to our legal team.

Symptoms of lung cancer

Most lung cancers don’t cause symptoms until they’ve spread, but some people with early stage lung cancer do present with symptoms. The earlier a doctor is able to recognize the symptoms, the greater the chance of the cancer being diagnosed at an earlier stage, where treatment may be more successful.

The American Cancer Society lists the most common symptoms of lung cancer:

  • Cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse.
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm).
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing.
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back.
  • New onset of wheezing.

Additionally, if lung cancer spreads to distant organs, it may cause:

  • Bone pain (typically pain in the back or hips).
  • Nervous system changes (headache, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, dizziness, balance problems, or seizures), due to cancer spreading to the brain or spinal cord.
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), from cancer spreading to the liver.
  • Lumps near the surface of the body, due to cancer spreading to the skin or to lymph nodes, such as those in the neck or above the collarbone.

Usually, most of these symptoms are caused by a condition other than lung cancer. However, if you have any of these issues, you should still see your doctor promptly to find out the cause and get appropriate treatment.

Risk factors for lung cancer

The primary cause of lung cancer is smoking, as well as exposure to second-hand smoke. Some people, however, have an elevated risk of developing lung cancer. This doesn’t necessarily mean a person will get cancer – it just means there is a higher risk. People with no risks at all can also develop lung cancer. Risk factors include:

  • Exposure to radon
  • Exposure to asbestos
  • Jobs with exposure to asbestos, chromium, arsenic, diesel exhaust, and other toxins
  • Air pollution
  • Previous radiation therapy to the lungs
  • Family or personal history of lung cancer

Treatment options for lung cancer in NJ

Treatments for lung cancer depend on a variety of factors like the stage of the cancer, age of the patient, and size and location of the cancer. They can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy.

There are many options for cancer treatment in New Jersey, including Memorial Sloan Kettering, Rutgers Cancer Institute, Steeplechase Cancer Center, Saint Peters University Hospital, and The Cancer Center at Shore Medical Center.

When your doctor fails to diagnose lung cancer

In the majority of failure to diagnose lung cancer cases, liability often falls on the patient’s physician or radiologist. Delayed or missed diagnosis frequently occurs due to a medical professional misreading a chest x-ray or ignoring a recognized symptom of lung cancer.

Medical malpractice may have occurred in any of the following common scenarios:

  • The doctor fails to order a follow-up test when a patient describes his or her symptoms – especially if the patient has risk factors for lung cancer.
  • The radiologist doesn’t notice or fails to comment on any abnormalities appearing on a chest x-ray.
  • The doctor receives the x-ray with a report of abnormalities, but fails to review it or order a biopsy to follow up.
  • The doctor reviews the x-ray report, but doesn’t communicate any abnormal results to the patient.

Another failure to diagnose issue is when a patient’s physician doesn’t properly track any abnormalities found on chest x-rays. One common example is when an x-ray finds a “solitary pulmonary nodule” but the patient has no other symptoms and doesn’t fall into any risk categories. However, the accepted standard of care is that a solitary pulmonary nodule should always be considered cancerous until proven otherwise.

Even with all this testing available, lung cancer goes undiagnosed too often. Delayed or misdiagnosis can result in unnecessary pain and suffering, or fatality if the disease has progressed too far. The sooner lung cancer is discovered, diagnosed, and treated, the better the chances for a healthy future for the patient.

Talk to a skilled New Jersey failure to diagnose lung cancer lawyer

At Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP, our medical malpractice attorneys have years of experience protecting people like you from negligent doctors and physicians. Our team will hold the people who harmed you responsible and fight for compensation. We have offices in Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River. Call our office for a consultation at 732-777-0100 or fill out our contact form.