Failure to Diagnose Tumors
It’s a horrifying feeling to find a lump somewhere on our bodies, or to have a general feeling of being unwell and to wonder what’s going on. We rely on doctors to make a diagnosis and to treat the problem, or in the case of that lump to hopefully reassure us that it’s not a tumor, or at least not a cancerous one.
When a doctor fails to diagnose a tumor, the consequences can range from minor discomfort and annoyance to serious illness or death. Tumors are abnormal growths that signify something is wrong. That something isn’t always a serious or terminal illness, but even a benign tumor can have many complications. Failing to diagnose a cancerous or benign tumor can lead to significant pain, organ damage, and the need for surgeries or other unpleasant and painful treatments that might not have been necessary if the tumor had been caught earlier.
If you’ve suffered harm because a physician or other health professional failed to diagnose a tumor, you may have a claim for medical malpractice. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can discuss with you the possibility for receiving compensation of your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What is a Tumor?
Put simply, a tumor is a collection of cells that has grown abnormally and serves no function in the body. Sometimes when the body creates new cells to take the place of old ones, something goes wrong and you end up with extra cells that gather into a mass. That’s a tumor.
Most people associate tumors with cancer. Many tumors can be cancerous, and cancerous tumors take countless forms, usually specific to where the tumor is growing in your body. Cancerous or malignant tumors require treatment to prevent the abnormal cells from spreading to other parts of the body and taking root. When cancer spreads, it can affect the function of organs or other body parts, causing pain, illness, and possibly death.
However, the odds of surviving many forms of cancer significantly increases with early intervention and treatment. Regular screenings can help detect cancers in their early stages, but it’s vitally important for doctors to recognize the warning signs of different types of cancers so that early diagnosis can be made — and potentially save a life.
When a doctor fails to diagnose a malignant tumor, the cancer likely will spread and cause serious illness or death. Extensive surgery may be needed to remove tumors, which can cause significant pain, disfigurement, or loss of functions. A person in later stages of cancer may need extensive chemotherapy or radiation therapy to treat the tumors, either of which is an extremely unpleasant process with side effects that can feel worse than the underlying cancer. One common side effect of chemotherapy drugs is a form of nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy in which the person loses sensation in extremities.
Even a non-cancerous benign tumor can be problematic. A tumor is, after all, an abnormal growth — it’s something that doesn’t really belong in your body. A benign tumor might cause pain, or affect the function of blood vessels, nerves, or organs if it grows in a way that presses into parts of the body and blocks the flow of blood or blocks signals from being transmitted through the nervous system.
Benign tumors are different from cancerous tumors in that they don’t usually spread to other parts of the body, and when they are surgically removed they don’t grow back. Some benign tumors can become malignant if left unchecked, making it important that doctors recognize and diagnose benign tumors as early as is possible and decide on an appropriate course of treatment.
Tumors can take numerous forms, usually depending on the location in the body where they grow. Benign tumors can grow anywhere in the body, but some common locations include the brain, bones, spine, liver, kidneys, stomach, colon, breasts, ovaries, pituatary gland, or thyroid.
In addition to growing in various locations, tumors come in different types. Some common types of benign tumors include:
- Adenomas — These tumors grow in the layer of thin tissue on the outside of organs, glands, and other structures in the body. A colon polyp is one form of adenoma.
- Fibromas or Fibroids — These tumors grow in fibrous or connective tissue. They can grow in any organ, but commonly are seen in women’s reproductive organs and can cause pain, bleeding, bladder issues, and problems with fertility.
- Hemangiomas — These tumors are blood vessel growths. They can grow on the skin, such as a red birthmark, or inside the body. Some hemangiomas may interfere with vision or hearing.
- Lipomas — These are tumors made of fat cells and are the most commonly seen form of benign tumor. They may be found on the back, neck, arms, or shoulders. They may require surgery if the growth is painful or quickly increasing in size.
If you have had a misdiagnosed tumor or a physician has failed to diagnose a tumor, you may have a medical malpractice claim. It’s best to consult with an experienced Chicago malpractice attorney who can evaluate your situation and help you explore your options for recovery. Call us anytime at .