New Jersey Ovarian Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorney
Failure to Diagnose & Treat Ovarian Cancer Lawyers Fighting for Your Compensation
A cancer diagnosis is frightening, and yet not all cancers are alike. Some cancers are easier to detect and treat than others. Bladder cancer is more treatable than ovarian cancer, for example. The success of any cancer treatment, however, depends not only on the type of cancer, but the timing of treatment. Early diagnosis for any cancer is key in terms of treatment choices and survival chances. And while a cancer diagnosis is scary, a doctor’s missed cancer diagnosis may be fatal, or at the least, cause for unnecessary pain, suffering, and extended and taxing treatments. Failure to diagnose is one of the leading causes of medical malpractice, as our experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group know all too well. Be sure to consult with one of our New Jersey ovarian cancer malpractice lawyers if you or a loved one suffered prolonged or delayed treatment, emotional distress, and physical pain and suffering due to a medical professional’s mishandling of ovarian cancer. Also, if a doctor or other healthcare provider failed to diagnose ovarian cancer or initiated treatment too late, and a family member of yours suffered wrongful death, our team is thoroughly prepared to assist you. Simply contact our New Jersey office at 973-435-4551 for a free case review.
Understanding Cancer when it Develops in the Ovaries
Oncologists know that malignant or cancerous cells that grow in or around the ovaries are signs of ovarian cancer. Ovaries, which make the hormones estrogen and progesterone that are crucial to menstruation, pregnancy, and overall health in women, are found on either side of the uterus. Ovaries also carry eggs. Cancer, in all areas of the body, is characterized by abnormal cell growth, meaning cells keep growing, outpacing normal cells that naturally form, divide, and die. The continuous growth results in tumors that press against organs in the vicinity of the ovaries. The cells may metastasize, meaning they travel throughout the body, endangering healthy tissue, and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Cancer types are designated by the particular organ or part of the body in which the abnormal cells originate. Thus, only cancer cells that originate from the ovaries form ovarian cancer.
Of the three types of cells constituting the ovaries, epithelial cells form epithelial tumors in tissue surrounding the ovaries. Most ovarian cancers arise from these cells. Far fewer cancers arise from the stromal layer, where hormones are produced, and the rarest, germ cell tumors, are contained in the cells that develop eggs. These cancerous tumors are not to be confused with ovarian cysts, which are typically not cancerous. Ovarian cysts occur when fluid or air accumulates near the ovary and usually occur during ovulation, the monthly egg release of the menstrual cycle. Persistent cysts not associated with ovulation, however, may be cause for further testing to find their source, followed by surgical removal.
What is the Prognosis for Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer can be treated successfully in its early stages. Cancer is measured in stages defined by whether the cancer is contained in one area or spread. Stage 1 means the cancer is localized in the ovaries, while Stage 2 ovarian cancer indicates the cancer has spread within the pelvic area, which contains the uterus, fallopian tubes, bladder, or rectum. In stage 3, the cancer has spread into the abdomen and lymph nodes or around the spleen or liver. At stages 1 and 2, doctors want to know how big and deep the cancer cells are. Stage 2 cancer cells are less than 2 centimeters, while they are ¾ of an inch when outside the spleen or liver. Lastly, stage 4 cancer means the tumor has metastasized into the liver, the fluid surrounding the lungs, or throughout the body, including the brain and skin. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer does not have distinct symptoms and no early detection tests exist, so only about 20% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed early enough to successfully beat the cancer.
How cancer looks and acts in each body is different but what matters most are the stage, health of the patient, and treatment responsiveness. The survival rates associated with ovarian cancer depend on many factors, but the five-year survival rate for the leading type of ovarian cancer is less than 50%, and that is if it is caught early. In other words, the likelihood that a woman lives for five years or more after diagnosis is less than half when compared with those living without cancer. By the time this deadly cancer reaches its later stages, cancer patients have only a 28% survival rate.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
For those who suffer from cancer of the ovaries, they may experience a swollen or painful abdomen, a bloated abdomen or overly full stomach after a meal, more constant urination and urgency to urinate, and the inability to eat. Making things more difficult when it comes to diagnosis, these symptoms manifest similarly to bladder, kidney, or yeast infections, among other conditions. With no distinct symptoms, ovarian cancer is hard to discern from other less harmful medical problems.
Additional symptoms of ovarian cancer include back pain, abnormal menstruation, painful intercourse, fatigue, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, skin rashes, and weak and inflamed muscles, which come and go if they are not signs of ovarian cancer. Some or all these symptoms may plague a woman over her lifetime without any connection to ovarian cancer. Many women ignore ordinary, intermittent symptoms like these unless they are uncomfortable enough or the symptoms persist long enough to motivate them to see a doctor. Once the symptoms are constant, the cancer has spread, making treatment less effective.
How does Ovarian Cancer Develop? Causes & Risk Factors
No one knows what causes ovarian cancer, but you may be at risk if you have ovarian cancer run in the family, ovarian gene mutations, a history of other cancers, hormone or fertility treatments, no pregnancies, or endometriosis. Obesity and old age are other risk factors, especially post-menopause. 1 out of 78 women will experience ovarian cancer at some point in their lifetime, with cases higher among women between 35 and 74 years old. These are not the only indicators that you may be susceptible to ovarian cancer, and some women have all the risk factors and never develop this cancer at all. And yet, given the low survival rate of ovarian cancer sufferers, careful physicians will refer patients with any of these risk factors and typical ovarian cancer symptoms to an oncologist, a cancer specialist.
Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer
Tumors too deep inside the abdomen are not likely to be found. Most women can’t feel them, so without regular screening tests, ovarian cancer often grows unnoticed. If a woman reports some or all of the symptoms associated with ovarian cancer, most doctors recommend a pelvic exam, but even then, small tumors are not easy to feel. Only large tumors that cause pressure or pain are noticeable by patients and their doctors. However, there are tests that find tumors, such as transvaginal ultrasounds. It is important to note that only sampling the tumor tissue can identify it as cancerous. Your doctor may also order abdominal and pelvic CT or MRI scans, blood tests to find biomarkers that tell a doctor if treatment for ovarian cancer would be successful, and a biopsy or tissue sample removal to examine microscopic cells and confirm ovarian cancer.
Ovarian Cancer Treatments & Therapies
Treatment depends on the stage, but typically cancer is treated with surgery or chemotherapy, as well as other targeted or hormone therapies. To be safe, doctors may order a full hysterectomy, including both ovaries, fallopian tubes, and nearby tissue. Targeted therapies are directed at the cancer cells only through chemotherapy or enzyme blocker medications called PARP inhibitors. If a woman is in her childbearing years and wishes to have children, she may be able preserve fertilized eggs, unfertilized eggs, and ovarian tissue by freezing them, since cancer treatments reduce the likelihood of becoming pregnant in the future. A woman might also elect to surgically remove only one ovary during treatment or take hormones to temporarily shut down the ovaries. Many ovarian cancer treatments thrust a woman into menopause.
Although there are numerous other therapies for ovarian cancer, they are in the testing or trial phases before becoming fully approved and therefore, are unavailable for now. Some studies may allow patients to participate to try experimental drugs and therapies that are currently under investigation. You can’t entirely prevent ovarian cancer, but it is possible to lower the chances of getting it by taking birth control pills, breastfeeding, pregnancy, or more radical measures such as tubal ligation (fallopian tube tying) or hysterectomy.
Medical Negligence with Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
In cases of ovarian cancer, catching it early, treating it successfully, and preserving a woman’s family plans depend on the competency of the physicians who treat them. A family doctor who first sees a woman complaining of stomach problems must rigorously rule out the more dangerous possible causes with appropriate testing and referrals to specialists. Likewise, the oncologist who treats the individual must expertly design a treatment plan that delicately balances isolating cancer, killing cancer cells without harming healthy tissue, and protecting a woman’s choices to procreate in the future if possible.
Physicians who eliminate choices by delaying diagnosis, failing to run tests, choosing the wrong treatment plan, omitting information about family planning options, or neglecting to educate their patients about experimental therapies and trials, may be held liable for medical malpractice. Those medical providers and facilities who negligently misdiagnose or fail to diagnose and treat ovarian cancer can be required to compensate victims and their loved ones for physical pain, mental and emotional suffering, extensive medical costs, economic losses, and in the case of a victim who dies from ovarian cancer, negligent doctors may be held accountable for wrongful death.
Get a Free Consultation with an NJ Ovarian Cancer Malpractice Lawyer Today
It is important to explore the legal avenues that may be available to you if your or your loved one’s ovarian cancer was misdiagnosed, the diagnosis was delayed, treatment began too late, or the type of treatment was improper for your specific cancer’s manifestation, stage, and your unique health factors. Contact Fronzuto Law Group in New Jersey to discuss your rights and options to file an ovarian cancer misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to treat lawsuit today. Free consultations are always available at 973-435-4551.