If you or a loved one has either colon or prostate cancer that was not diagnosed early enough, you may have asked yourself if the doctor arguably should have diagnosed it sooner.
In this post we'll go over the typical processes for checking for these common types of cancer and highlight the things that constitute negligence on a doctor's part. This way, you can better determine whether or not there may been indeed been more that could've been done.
Screening for Prostate Cancer
At a certain age, usually 50, doctors begin annually performing a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test on male patients. This test helps to check for markers that can be a sign of prostate cancer.
The PSA blood test gives a numerical score. Any score over 4 requires further exploration.
Usually, the next step to explore further in those cases is a digital rectal exam. The doctor manually feels for issues, which is a reliable way to determine whether there are indeed concerns.
What prostate cancer negligence looks like:
- If the doctor fails to perform these annual tests on a male patient age 50 or over, never mentions it as something that should be done, and then it turns out that the patient later has prostate cancer, this can be negligence.
- If the PSA blood test scores 4 or higher, but the doctor does not recommend a rectal exam as a next step to explore further, and then it turns out later that the patient has prostate cancer, it can also be negligence.
If you or a loved one has prostate cancer and believe your doctor was negligent, that it could've been discovered sooner, it's important that you can demonstrate that you've been regularly seeing the doctor for exams.
There needs to have been ample opportunity for the doctor to have performed these tests and made recommendations. Or put another way, it must be a situation where the doctor can't claim in their defense that you'd not properly been showing up for exams.
Most of the time the doctor and/or hospital staff immediately recognize their fault in the matter when a suit like this is filed.
We've tried cases like this before. In one case the client was awarded $1 million, and it was offered right after filing the suit. We didn't even need to go to trial.
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Determining Negligence for Failure To Diagnose Colon Cancer
The generally recommended age for a colonoscopy is 55. Patients are not conscious for this exam, but it's an excellent opportunity for doctors to check for any warning signs of colon cancer.
Similar to the points made above regarding prostate cancer, if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with colon cancer and believe it should've been discovered sooner, here are important elements that are required for a negligence lawsuit to be viable.
- If you're 55 or over and your doctor has never mentioned or recommended a colonoscopy, and then later it turns out you have colon cancer, you could have a negligence case.
- If you do have a colonoscopy and the doctor does find something of note, but then never follows up on it or takes any further action, this can be negligent if it turns out you do have colon cancer and it wasn't discovered at that point.
In the case of #2, if the doctor maintains that they didn't find anything that seemed like a warning sign during the colonoscopy, it can still potentially be a negligence case.
But in that situation it's ideal if you have a second opinion from a different doctor who did properly diagnose the cancer who could testify that the first doctor should have been able to detect it sooner.
Secondly, for any personal injury lawsuit you must be able to demonstrate damage has been done. In this case, we must be able to show that because of the doctor not diagnosing the cancer sooner your health is worse off than it could have been.
If a second doctor catches the cancer fast enough to enact a proper treatment with a positive prognosis, while it's unfortunate that the first doctor didn't catch it, it also isn't likely a negligence case.
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