Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. In 2012, there were more than 200,000 newly diagnosed cases of lung cancer and more than 150,000 related deaths. It is well known among doctors that early treatment, based on early diagnosis, can improve the effectiveness of treatment and increase the patient’s chance of survival.
The key to early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer is to recognize lung nodules on imaging studies and refer the patient for biopsy. Most often, it is a simple chest x-ray where a nodule appears. If more sophisticated imaging is necessary, Positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT), low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), and contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CE-CT) have been identified as common noninvasive imaging modalities for detecting and diagnosing lung nodules.
The use of routine chest x-rays in annual examinations has been largely abandoned. Most often they are done based on a patient’s complaints. Most cases arise when a cancerous nodule is missed on a study ordered specifically to examine the lungs, though there are a surprisingly large number of cases that stem from the failure to follow-up on what are called “incidental findings.” For instance, say a patient, who is complaining of belly pain, is sent for an abdominal CT scan, and the lower lungs happen to be captured on the images. Often times, the radiologist reviewing the film will comment on a finding of a lung abnormality, yet the doctor who requested the film will fail to note or follow up on the finding. In this instance, the chance to make an early finding of cancer is missed.
Lung nodules show up as relatively low-contrast white circular objects within the lung fields, sometimes making their detection difficult. The difficulty increases during evaluation when it becomes necessary for the radiologist or a computer assisted detection system to distinguish true nodules from (overlapping) shadows, vessels, and ribs.
Once the lung nodules are detected, the next job is to determine whether the detected nodules are malignant or benign, and radiologists are trained to recognize that the malignancy of lung nodules correlates highly with their geometrical size, shape, and appearance.
Medical malpractice occurs when the physician reviewing the film either fails to detect what should be an evident lung nodule or fails to follow up on a potentially malignant nodule that is detected.
One key to protecting yourself from late diagnosis or misdiagnosis of lung cancer is to make sure that you call your doctor for the results of an imaging test. Do not assume that “no news is good news” and forget about the test. Call the doctor’s office and ask for the results because sometimes a report, with a positive finding is put into the file without the doctor seeing it. Your call may mean that the doctor will review the report and notice a positive or incidental finding.
If you believe that you are the victim of lung cancer misdiagnosis, call one of the lawyers at Simonson Goodman Platzer PC for a free consultation. The New York and New Jersey late diagnosis and misdiagnosis lawyers at Simonson Goodman Platzer PC have been representing victims of late diagnosis and misdiagnosis for decades. Paul Simonson has recovered money for
￼his clients in 98% of the cases he has managed, with a total dollar recovery of 200 million dollars, and he has consistently been recognized as a “Best Lawyer in America” and as a Super Lawyer in the field of medical malpractice.