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Failure to diagnose lung cancer can worsen patient outcomes

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death for Pittsburgh residents. If cancer is diagnosed early in a patient often a person's life can be extended with early treatment. But the failure to diagnose cancer early can lead to delayed treatment and a worsened patient outcome.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer. There are two types of lung cancer, small cell and non-small cell. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type comprising of 80 percent of cases. Lung cancer is also the most common cause of cancer deaths and accounts for 27 percent of people who die from cancer.

When a patient does not receive a timely diagnosis of lung cancer their prognosis can be greatly affected. When a patient is diagnosed in stage one or stage two they often have a better chance of survival. Late stage lung cancer is often fatal. The ways in which lung cancer can be not diagnosed in patients include a radiologist or family doctor not seeing an abnormality on a chest x-ray. This occurs in up to 25 percent of patients. Warning signs of lung cancer that a patient may exhibit include coughing up blood, enlarged lymph nodes and wheezing.

A doctor who fails to diagnose lung cancer can put the patient at risk of delayed treatment. Treatment for lung cancer includes surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. When a patient receives treatment early they have a better survival rate.

If a patient believes a doctor failed to recognize their lung cancer symptoms or did not diagnose lung cancer in a timely way they may want to speak with a legal professional skilled in medical malpractice. An attorney can review the medical records and determine who is at fault for the delay in diagnosis. Compensation may be available for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

Source: Cleveland Clinic, "Lung cancer," accessed on April 28, 2015

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