Our lawyers are available to talk to women and families who are concerned that a failure to diagnose ovarian cancer resulted in a reduced chance of survival. These are complex medical malpractice claims.
There are 2 hurdles to winning money damages for failure to diagnose:
- Proving that the doctor, lab technician or another medical professional was negligent
- If there was negligence, proving that the negligence caused the patient harm—that it shortened the patient’s life or caused additional pain and suffering.
Was the Doctor or Lab Technician Negligent?
If we take your case, our lawyers will hire medical experts to help us analyze your medical records. Together, we will determine if there is evidence of negligence.
Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors and Negligence
Most likely, you will have provided information on form asking about your and your family’s medical history. This information helps a doctor know if you have certain risk factors for ovarian cancer, and it should be viewed and considered by your doctor to determine if diagnostic tests are needed.
Ovarian cancer can be caused by genetic mutations of 2 genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, which produce proteins that repair damaged DNA, and thereby prevent tumor growth. The mutations change the genes so that they do not repair damaged DNA. The same mutations of the same genes can cause breast cancer.
This is common medical knowledge that your doctor should know. This genetic risk also makes your family’s medical history crucial to getting a diagnosis.
What the doctor should look for and consider is
- Did your grandmother (mother or father’s side), mother, aunt (either side) or sister have ovarian cancer?
- Did you or any of these women have breast cancer?
The BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation can be inherited from either the mother or father. A child with a parent who has one of these genetic mutations has a 50 percent chance of having inherited the mutation.
When a younger woman gets ovarian cancer, it is generally because she has a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2.
Other risk factors include age, nonpolyposis colon cancer, early menstruation (before 12), menopause after 50, not have given birth to a child, having your first child after age 30, use of talcum powder, estrogen replacement therapy, and cigarette smoking.
When a woman is at risk and has symptoms, the doctor decides whether the woman should undergo testing that will either rule out or indicate the possibility of ovarian cancer. Failure to take measures can be negligence, depending on the facts of the case. The only way to conclusively determine if a woman has ovarian cancer is to do a biopsy. If the facts of the case point to the need for a biopsy and it would be considered reasonable practice to do a biopsy, a doctor who does not recommend a biopsy may be negligent.
Early symptoms include back pain, fatigue, bloating, constipation, abdominal pain and the feeling that one needs to urinate a good part of the time. As the disease progresses, the woman may have prolonged swelling in the abdominal area, increased abdominal pain (particularly with cramping), constant pelvic pressure, vaginal bleeding and unexplained leg pain.
At this time, possible tests include a CA125 blood test, a sonogram, a CT scan, a pelvic exam and a biopsy.
Did the Failure to Diagnose Ovarian Cause a Reduced Chance of Survival?
In many of these cases, the issue is whether lost a chance at survival or recovery. A lawyer needs to prove that a delay in diagnosis resulted in less of a chance of survival or recovery. Again, we hire the best medical experts we can find to help us prove this. Legally, proving this connection between the negligence and the harm to the patient is called “causation.”
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