Failure to Diagnose Cancer


As patients, sometimes we do everything we can to be properly treated. This includes attending doctors' appointments, getting bloodwork and lab screenings, as well as physicals. However, despite doing everything we can, a physician may fail to diagnose your illness or injury. When a doctor fails to diagnose and treat a patient's illness or injury in a timely manner, terrible consequences, including death, may result. 

Causes of Failure to Diagnose Cancer

Some causes of a physician's failure to diagnose your cancer may include:

  • Dismissing patient complaints
  • Failing to order appropriate scans or blood tests
  • Failing to perform a biopsy, colonoscopy, etc.
  • Failing to refer the patient to a cancer specialist
  • Misreading of X-rays, CT scans and other diagnostics
  • Failing to ask the patient about his or her symptoms
  • Failing to follow up with the patient after an appointment or treatment

Failure to Diagnose Lymphoma

Lymphoma is one of the most complex forms of cancer and is capable of developing in the lymph nodes, the spleen, bone marrow, and even vital organs. It begins in infection-fighting cells known as lymphocytes, which can grow and expand into cancerous cells over time. In the early stages, it can present itself with symptoms like swollen lymph nodes, fevers, night sweats, shortness of breath, fatigue, and weight loss. While treatable if caught early, the survival rate can drop drastically if lymphoma is left untreated.

Failure To Diagnose Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. The earlier breast cancer is found and diagnosed, the better a patient's chances of survival. Screening tests, such as annual mammograms, look for signs of disease in women who are not displaying symptoms of disease. Common signs of breast cancer in the early stages include a suspicious mass or lump, discharge from the nipple, and a painful or reddened breast. If these symptoms are interpreted correctly, diagnostic actions such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood tests and bone scans can be ordered to further investigate.

Failure To Diagnose Colon/Rectal Cancer

Colon and rectal cancer is second only to lung cancer in the yearly number of deaths. This disease is treatable if detected by a physician at an early stage. If you have no symptoms and are without a history of colorectal cancer or polyps, you still need to be screened. If, however, you have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, or some other reason, such as lifestyle choices that place you in an increased risk category, then you require surveillance exams with colonoscopies. 

Failure To Diagnose Uterine/Cervical Cancer

In the United States, about 14,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and almost 4,000 women die from the disease annually. Regular Pap tests and pelvic exams are important for women because they can detect cancer or abnormalities that may lead to cancer. Abnormalities can be treated before they lead to cancer. If test results are interpreted correctly and in a timely manner, and the cancer is detected in the early stages, cervical cancer usually responds well to treatment.

Failure to Diagnose Skin Cancer

Skin cancer can be melanoma or non-melanoma. Non-melanoma skin cancer can be either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Skin cancer predominantly occurs on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun. This type of cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States with about 1 million men and women diagnosed every year. Nearly 60,000 of those cases of skin cancer will be the melanoma form of skin cancer which accounts for the larger number of skin cancer deaths.

Failure to Diagnose Prostate Cancer

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. Nearly 200,000 men a year will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Early detection increases a man's likelihood to survive the cancer. There are two tests that are used for early detection of prostate cancer. These are the digital rectal exam, in which a doctor feels the prostate through the rectum to determine if the prostate is hard, lumpy, or enlarged. Additionally, a prostate specific antigen test is used to detect a substance made by the prostate in response to prostate cancer. These tests should be performed in combination, and, taken together, detect about 90% of all prostate cancers in their early stages. Failure to use both tests may result in delayed diagnosis of prostate cancer.


If you or a loved one has suffered from a doctor failing to diagnose cancer, it is entirely possible that your doctor or physician should have caught it sooner and given you more time to battle this terrible disease. Contact me today at (631) 938-6543 and we can discuss your case, answer your questions, talk about mistakes your doctor may have made, and help determine your next steps.

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At The Law Office of Christopher S. Germaine, I focus on Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, negligence as it relates to cancer, Dental Malpractice, Nursing Home Liability, and Assisted Living Home Liability and I am here to listen to you and help you navigate the legal system.

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Contact Me Today

The Law Office of Christopher S. Germaine is committed to answering your questions about Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Nursing Home Liability, and Assisted Living Home Liability law issues in New York.

I offer a free consultation and I'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact me today to schedule an appointment.