You have been having stomach cramps for a few weeks. Not surprising, since your youngest is starting school and your job's been a little hectic lately. You think it's just stress, but your spouse wants you to see the doctor just to be sure.
At your appointment, you tell the doctor what you've been going through, and he agrees that it's probably just stress. Relieved, you go home with a prescription for stronger antacids.
And now, two years later, you have a tumor in your abdomen removed. You keep thinking back to that first appointment-shouldn't your doctor have done something then?
Learn more about cancer misdiagnosis in our FREE book: Do I Have A Case? A Patient's Guide to Virginia Medical Negligence Law.
Cases of misdiagnosed cancer are unfortunately all too common in Virginia. Patients are often so relieved to hear they are "fine" that they do not insist on follow-up testing-a mistake that could ultimately cost them their lives.
Here are just a few tests that your DC doctor can order to better rule out a cancer diagnosis:
- Blood and urine tests. If cancer is suspected, your doctor can order simple blood tests, such as a Complete Blood Count (CBC), to check the number of blood cells and detect abnormal cells. Urine testing can discover cancer cells that originate in the bladder or kidneys.
- Colonoscopy. Many Americans suffer from stomach or intestinal discomfort. However, your doctor should not shrug off such symptoms as stress or irritable bowel disease without ruling out colon cancer first. A colonoscopy can detect cancer in the bowel, as well as confirm a less serious diagnosis.
- Pap test. Women over the age of 21 should receive regular pap tests to rule out cervical cancer. If you are over the age of 30, you may get a human papillomavirus test at your pap appointment, since HPV infections are the number one cause of cervical and anal cancer.
- Mammogram. These breast x-rays allow doctors to find lumps in time for early treatment, reducing the death rate of breast cancer victims. Since women will often have no other signs of the disease, your doctor should recommend regular mammograms every 1-2 years after age 40.
- PET scan. These imaging tests differ from CAT scans or MRIs because they don't just show masses in the body, they can tell the difference between benign and malignant tumors. These tests are often ordered after cancer has been diagnosed because they can detect abnormalities at a cellular level.
As trusted Fairfax medical malpractice attorneys, we know that doctors sometimes find extra screening tests unnecessary. They may think you are too young to have cancer, or that your ailment is most likely something non-life-threatening.
However, it is your doctor's duty to perform a thorough examination despite his personal opinion. If your Virginia physician failed to read your complete medical history or order simple follow-up tests, he could be liable for negligence.
If someone you love has suffered a cancer misdiagnosis, we can help. Call Shevlin Smith today at (703) 721-4233 for a free consultation.