There’s no prescribed method for responding to the news that you or someone you love has prostate cancer. Dealing with the reality of something of this magnitude is a process that takes time and courage. Sometimes this process is made harder by the troubling realization that the cancer could have been treated earlier on in its development. In such cases, you not only have to deal with the news that cancer is upon you or your loved one; you also have to reckon with the fact that had it been diagnosed earlier, the cancer would not have spread or the prognosis would not have been so dire.
If you or your loved one discover that somewhere along the line a medical professional missed a step or ignored worrisome signs that eventually led to cancer, then you should seek the help of a malpractice attorney who has handled cases involving the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of prostate cancer.
It is an unhappy reality that missing a diagnosis is not as anomalous as it probably should be, with 12 percent of cancer cases going unnoticed in their nascent stages by medical professionals. According to the National Cancer Institute, 14 percent of men will be diagnosed with this disease at some point in their lives, and as with other forms of cancer, the chance of survival is much higher if it is diagnosed and treated in the beginning phases. Consequently, the failure to diagnose could be a matter of life and death in some instances.
Numbers like these are not so easy to grasp in the abstract. It is difficult to avoid asking the obvious questions: how do trained professionals fail make such epic mistakes? With prostate cancer there is one major step that, if missed, can often lead to progressed cancer: it is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, a procedure designed to pinpoint early warning signs of prostate cancer. In some cases, a doctor might do the test but miss a high PSA level, thereby allowing the cancer to progress unnoticed. In other cases, a doctor may elect not to request a PSA blood test. It is recommended that men over 50 get a PSA test and rectal exam, in order to diagnose prostate cancer at an early stage. If steps are missed, you will have to investigate the causes and consequences of such failures.
What to Do
Tracing your steps backwards is easier said then done, so it is imperative that you do your research and find a talented lawyer who can aid you in this long and complex process. It is also important that you commence your journey as soon as possible because each state has its own time limitations that, if exceeded, disallow you from proceeding in a malpractice case. Be sure to research the statute of limitations in your state so that you don’t find out halfway through the process that you’re too late. Working in a timely fashion is doubly important if you consider the fact that your story will be more difficult to piece together the longer you wait. More specifically, testimonies lose their value over time, and records, such as receipts, tests and appointment slips, may become more difficult to locate. In the end, you and your attorney will want to determine if the failure to diagnose had a direct impact on the development of your cancer and the exact value of the missed chance to treat the cancer in the early stages.
This may sound overwhelming and absolutely stressful, but you have to remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Make it a priority to find the best medical malpractice attorney in your area. With an experienced lawyer at your side, you will be able to work through this mess of questions, testimonies and receipts. There’s no reason to go through it by yourself if you don’t have to.