Nearly 30,000 men will die from prostate cancer in the U.S. in 2006. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2006 nearly 240,000 new cases will be diagnosed, second in men only to skin cancer. Of all diagnosed cases, only about three percent will eventually result in death due in large part to the high success rate of treatment options and to advanced testing methods for early detection. Unfortunately, in some cases, had prostate cancer been diagnosed sooner, preventable deaths might have been avoided.
Many claims for failure to timely diagnose prostate cancer are against the patient’s urologist or primary care physician for improperly reading the results of a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test or notifying the patient of the test result’s significance in a timely manner. The test measures a substance produced in increased amounts by the prostate of men suffering from prostate cancer.
Digital rectal exams can identify bumps or hardened areas in the prostate and are recommended by the ACS to be done yearly along with PSA tests for men aged 50 and over. The ACS also recommends that testing should begin at age 40 for men with a family history of prostate cancer and for those who exhibit symptoms. Symptoms may include:
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty with urination
- Pain, a burning sensation, or weak flow during urination
- Blood in semen or urine
- Difficulty keeping an erection
- Pain during ejaculation
- Numbness or weakness in feet or legs
- Pelvis, hip or back pain, or pain in the ribs or other bones
Most of these symptoms are due to an enlarged prostate that puts pressure on the bladder or other nearby organs. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you should immediately consult with your physician.
If a physician fails to order yearly tests for male patients over 50 years of age, or if the physician fails to diagnose or to investigate further the common symptoms, and if the patient is diagnosed later with an advanced stage of prostate cancer, the physician may have been negligent. This may also be the case if the physician failed to perform a biopsy, a transrectal ultrasound, an x-ray, or a bone scan when test results were abnormal.
Malpractice cases have been historically difficult to win because of the difficulty of securing medical records, witnesses, and details particular to the case. Hospitals also often retain top-notch legal representation. It is therefore important that you consult with an attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases if you suspect that you or a loved one is the victim of failure to diagnose prostate cancer.
Many medical malpractice attorneys work on a contingency basis and have won cases for their clients, resulting not only in the recovery of their medical bills, but of current and future loss of income and compensation for the pain and suffering they incurred.