In recent years, changes with telehealth, worldwide pandemics and other issues have resulted in fewer people getting screened for cancer. Unfortunately, with a lack of screening, more people have been getting their diagnoses later than they should have.
Missed diagnoses are somewhat common, depending on the type of cancer. According to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, cancer misdiagnoses happen up to 44% of the time, but 28% of the time on average, depending on the type of cancer. Some of the most commonly missed cancers include sarcomas, lymphoma, melanoma and breast cancer.
What happens when screenings are missed?
If a cancer diagnosis is missed, or if tests are delayed, then patients may be left with cancers that have progressed beyond certain treatment options. One man reported that his type of cancer, neuroendocrine tumors that require a close watch, actually doubled in size during a time period when his scans were postponed three times. During those three months, he had no idea that his cancer was worsening.
Regular screening helps reduce the likelihood of mortality, and missed screenings can mean that patients don’t get treatment as soon as they should. It’s dangerous in cases where the specific type of cancer grows quickly, too, such as in the case of lung cancer.
What can patients do if they receive a delayed diagnosis?
Depending on the length of the delay, patients may find that they have limited options. What may have been a simple surgical removal of a minor cancer previously may now be one that requires chemotherapy or other interventions.
Delayed diagnoses can be fatal, too. A patient who is unaware of having cancer may not be receiving the treatments they need. Cancer itself can cause many serious complications depending on the type, so they may succumb to their illnesses before diagnoses are ever made.
It’s unfair to patients to not have regular cancer screenings that can help catch the signs of cancer early. If your medical provider has pushed back your tests or refused to see you due to health issues around the country, it’s worth looking into seeing if you could have a medical malpractice claim.