How Cancer Misdiagnosis Affects Staging
With many medical conditions, you either get a positive or negative diagnosis from a Florida health care provider. For cancer, there is much more to the analysis once cancerous cells are discovered. The American Cancer Society describes this assessment as cancer staging, in which physicians determine the location and how much the disease has spread to other areas of the body – among other factors. The stage of cancer guides oncologists and the cancer care team with treatment options, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Cancer staging also helps health care providers evaluate your suitability for clinical trials.
With so much riding on cancer staging, it is clear that a proper diagnosis is the critical first step. Doctors have access to highly advanced tools for detecting cancerous cells, but they can make diagnostic mistakes that disrupt cancer staging and treatment. Consulting with a Tampa cancer misdiagnosis lawyer is essential if you have concerns about diagnosis errors, and some background is useful.
How Cancer Staging Works: Health care providers apply many of the same tools for staging as they do for diagnosis, including x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, pathology and specimen testing, and many others. Besides offering guidance on cancer care, a cancer’s stage is also an indicator of how the cells will spread and whether treatment will be successful. The “TNM” system of cancer staging is the most common and familiar:
- T = Tumor: This factor refers to the size and extent of the primary tumor.
- N = Lymph Nodes: It is important to know whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes nearby the primary tumor, a predictor of the disease affecting other parts of the body.
- M = Metastasize: When cancer has metastasized, it has already spread from the primary tumor – beyond the lymph nodes and to the other parts of the body.
Evaluating these factors through TNM cancer staging enables physicians to categorize the disease. The earliest Stage 0 means the cells have been discovered but not yet spread, while Stage 4 means the disease has spread to parts of the body that are distant from the primary tumor.
Cancer Misdiagnosis Disrupts Staging: When a doctor disregards the signs, fails to order proper testing, or neglects to follow up with cancer testing, a proper diagnosis is not possible. The error creates a snowball effect that affects staging because it results in delays. During this time, the primary tumor could grow, the cells might spread to the lymph nodes, and the cancer may metastasize – all three of the TNM factors. The key impact for the patient is that treatment options diminish when the cancer is not caught until later stages.
Talk to a Tampa Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorney About Options
Diagnosis errors may constitute medical malpractice under Florida law, so you may qualify to pursue a negligent health care provider for monetary damages. To learn more about your rights, please contact Greco & Wozniak P.A. at 813.223.7849 or via our website. We can schedule a no-cost case review with a skilled cancer misdiagnosis lawyer at our offices in Tampa, FL.