New Jersey Cervical Cancer Attorneys
Representing those Harmed by Failure to Diagnose Cervical Cancer & Misdiagnosis
The dreaded “C” word, cancer, is a frightening diagnosis. Most people think about how deadly cancer is and the horrors involved in controlling or beating it. Rightly so, as it is considered by most to be the number one mortal enemy of the healthy. It is always looming out there, especially as we get older. Cancer is not, however, only an old age disease. Anyone at any age can get it. The main thrust of the disease is rampant cell growth that, if unchecked, spreads throughout the body. Most cancers are named for the point of origin. As such, cancer that grows malignant cells in cervical tissue is called cervical cancer.
The cervix is the pathway from a woman’s birth canal to the womb. Cervical cancer most often results from untreated human papillomavirus or HPV infection that stays in the system for too long. Most people who carry this commonly transmitted virus between sexual partners never develop cervical cancer, but some women do develop it, most of whom are 30 years of age or older. The good news about this type of cancer is the existence of an HPV vaccine to lessen the risk of experiencing it at some point. Likewise, it is one cancer that responds well to treatment if discovered and properly treated in the early stages. That being the case, doctors should impress upon their female patients the importance of screening for HPV, along with having regular gynecological exams and getting vaccinated. Still more, gynecologists and other medical professionals must be aware of their patient’s family history, personal medical past, and the presence of any risk factors for developing cervical cancer. Spotting the potential signs and symptoms, running the appropriate tests, and initiating treatment in a timely manner could spell the difference between a woman’s life and death.
Sadly, if healthcare providers fail to spot abnormalities during routine gynecological exams, conduct tests to check for cervical cancer, negligently misread test results, or misdiagnose cervical cancer as something else, patients are inevitably placed in harm’s way. In fact, the results of failure to diagnose cervical cancer or misdiagnosis often involve aggressive cancer progression, extended treatment, permanent injuries and complications, or in the worst cases, it can be fatal. When these adverse events happen to women and families in New Jersey, the dedicated medical malpractice lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group serve as guides and aggressive advocates for the compensation these consequences demand. We are here to provide you with further information about your rights to sue for cervical cancer negligence and to explore the viability of your claim. Simply contact us at 973-435-4551 today.
Certain Factors Raise the Risk for Cervical Cancer
While most women’s immune systems can fight off the HPV infection, those who smoke, are long-time birth control pill users, have birthed many children, have been exposed to certain medications while in the womb, or harbored an HIV infection for a long time, are at greater risk for developing cervical cancer. In addition, a weak immune system, having HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), certain post-transplant medications, a history of sexual activity from early youth, multiple sex partners, and older age increases the likelihood of being infected by HPV. These are the details your doctor should know in your health history to inform any diagnosis of cervical cancer.
How is Cervical Cancer Diagnosed?
Although you may have cervical cancer without symptoms at the beginning, symptoms like vaginal bleeding or discharge, painful sexual intercourse, and lower abdominal pain, sometimes later develop over the course of years. Therefore, it is especially important for your ob-gyn to perform pap smears regularly or order an HPV test, where abnormal cells may first be discovered and later biopsied. Cervical cancer diagnosis depends on appropriate testing, beginning with a physical exam to check the patient’s history and overall health. A physician usually looks for symptoms and signs, such as lumps or other indications of disease. In addition, a regular pelvic exam, which includes viewing and touching the reproductive organs and the rectum to feel for abnormalities in the vagina, ovaries, and rectum, is part of a regular checkup. The doctor will also take samplings of the cells of the cervix and vagina in a pap smear to search for abnormal cells in the lab. Other tests run through the lab include:
- The HPV test, which detects HPV infection in collected samples from the vagina and cervix
- The endocervical curettage test that checks cells from the cervix from a tissue sample
- A colposcopy scoping procedure to view the vagina and cervix for abnormalities and take tissue samples
- A biopsy, which entails cutting away tissue to send to the pathologist for disease testing.
After diagnosis, a doctor may run tests to see if the cancer has spread to other areas of the cervix or the body, which also determines the stage of the cancer. CT scans, PET scans, MRI’s, ultrasounds, x-rays, biopsies, laparoscopy, surgery, and cystoscopy may be used to check all areas of the body for abnormal cell growth or tumors. Moreover, if precancerous cells or a contained tumor is found, a healthcare professional may recommend surgically removing it. In general, cancer spreads via the tissue, lymph system and blood stream. When cancer has moved to other parts of the body, it is said to have metastasized. Tumors or cancer cells found in other body parts that originated from the cancer affecting the cervix are said to be metastatic cervical cancers, which are much more dangerous and deadly. Once again, when diagnosed quickly, cervical cancer is a treatable medical condition. It is also one of the most preventable cancers.
Treatments & Options when Someone Receives a Cervical Cancer Diagnosis
Treatment options for cervical cancer, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy, depend on how far the cancer has progressed and whether the patient has plans for a family in the future. Specifically, treatment and prognosis depend on many factors, including: how far the cancer has progressed, the type of cancer, the type of HPV present, the presence of HIV, the age and health of the patient, and whether the patient is of childbearing age. If found during pregnancy, the treating physician may weigh the circumstances when deciding whether to begin treatment after or during pregnancy. It is crucial to account for things like how far along the pregnancy and cancer are, respectively.
Cancer is measured in stages. Stage I cancer refers to cancer measuring up to 5 millimeters found in the cervix. In stage II, the cancer has moved into the upper region of the vagina and uterine surroundings, while stage III cancer means the cancer has spread to other parts of the pelvic region. Finally, stage IV is the spread to other parts of the body beyond the pelvis. An oncologist, or cancer doctor, may decide which treatments are appropriate based on the stage, health of the patient, and other pertinent factors affecting treatment, such as allergies to certain medications. The object, of course, is to find the treatment or treatments that prove most successful for the patient.
Those in need treatment have various options. They can be treated with one or a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Additionally, clinical trials for new treatments for cervical cancer are ongoing and patients may choose to proceed with one of those. Surgery may include taking out the tumor or cancerous tissue, the entire cervix, or the entire reproductive system and some of the elimination organs, such as the rectum, bladder, and colon. Radiation therapy consists of supercharged x-rays to kill or stunt the growth of cancer cells, and chemotherapy, which also kills or prevents cell growth, is accomplished through drugs. Targeted therapy uses drugs or antibodies to kill specific cancer cells only, and immunotherapy is a boost of the patient’s immune system by synthetic or natural immunity-producing substances. Follow up testing occurs during and after the treatment, every three to four months for up to two years after the cancer is gone.
Errors Diagnosing, Treating, and Failing to Treat Cervical Cancer
Even after cervical cancer is treated, recurrence is always a possibility. Regardless of whether cervical cancer first appears or returns, the prognosis is best if diagnostic errors do not occur. Regular gynecological exams are commonplace for many women, and pap smears are usually an annual to three-year event. Age and prior medical issues may warrant more frequent pap smears that identify cervical changes or precancerous cells. It is important to note that while this is the primary first line diagnostic tool, the test may lead to dangerous, erroneous results. Human error can unfortunately involve serious, life-altering testing mistakes. For example, a physician may collect too little of a sample or use an improper or outdated testing method that yields incorrect results. A liquid -based pap smear process is more accurate than a glass slide process because not all of the cells are placed on the slide and the cells may overlap, making it harder to get an accurate reading. Additionally, the lab that collects and evaluates the pap sample may make mistakes, leading to a false negative. In other cases, a doctor may fail to report an abnormal pap smear or overlook the woman’s history that reveals risk factors for cervical cancer.
When it comes to cancers of all types, mistakes and failures are enormously costly. Cases of delayed or incorrect diagnoses expose patients to a higher risk of complications and death from cervical cancer or even untreatable cervical cancer if the delay is significant. First stage cancer is obviously easier to treat when it is localized than when it has spread throughout the body in the fourth stage. Doctors who contribute to a woman’s incredible pain and suffering from cervical cancer, by failing to thoroughly test and diagnose the cancer early enough to prevent cancer from progressing or avoiding it altogether, may be liable for medical malpractice. Damages accounting for the costs of treatment, lost wages due to illness and long-term disability, as well as the emotional costs of having cervical cancer may be recouped from medical professionals and facilities who failed to live up to their responsibilities. The appropriate and timely diagnosis and treatment of disease, particularly cervical and other cancers, is simply nonnegotiable. In fact, it is often lifesaving.
What to do when Cervical Cancer is Missed or Misdiagnosed in NJ
If you or a loved one suffered harm due to undiagnosed or misdiagnosed cervical cancer, confer with the renowned medical malpractice attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group for a free case review and personal guidance about whether you may be able to obtain compensation from those responsible for your losses. Our experienced lawyers understand the complexities of proving a malpractice claim through intensive investigation of medical charts, consultation with respected medical experts, and the necessary mastery of the laws, rules, and procedures for filing a cancer misdiagnosis or other medical malpractice lawsuit in New Jersey. We remain attuned and committed to best serving your needs as we fight for the compensation you and your family deserve. To consult with a lawyer about a cervical cancer negligence case, send us a message or contact 973-435-4551 for a free consultation.