Using the word cancer with a patient can evoke some pretty strong responses. Telling patients that they have cancer or precancerous cells may be difficult, but failing to alert them could result in serious health damage as well as legal problems. Doctors are notoriously cautious about using the “c word” with patients, but their caution could lead to missed or understated diagnoses.
According to a piece in the Tampa Bay Times, doctors often face internal conflicts when deciding how to approach patients who may have cancer, whether for the first time or a reoccurrence after remission.
While screening for cancer has become more advanced and has increased the number of annual cancer diagnoses, doctors say this has also led to an increase in treatments that may not always be necessary.
A panel of experts recently informed the National Cancer Institute that screening for breast, prostate, lung, and thyroid cancers has resulted in the discovery of many abnormalities. But these abnormalities don’t always require chemotherapy, radiation, or “radical” surgery. Many times, the treatments can be worse than the disease they are trying to prevent, according to the article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“I’m sure that we do overdiagnose and overtreat certain patients,” said one oncology surgeon in Florida. “The problem is, we don’t know which ones.”
A geriatric oncologist observed that while screening has reduced cancer deaths, it also has resulted in many painful treatment procedures that aren’t really necessary.
In many cases, the patients want the most aggressive treatment, even if there is a chance the abnormal cells won’t spread—even when it might not be a cause for concern at all. Why? Well, there’s no doubt that even a possible cancer diagnosis can be frightening and could lead to drastic measures. However, a seasoned physician should be able to advise a patient about the best line of treatment no matter the outlook.
A cancer diagnosis is not something to be taken lightly by either a doctor or a patient. For this reason, you must be able to trust your physician to utter the “c word” only when necessary and not to protect you by staying silent when precancerous conditions are discovered.
If you or a loved one received a cancer misdiagnosis or discovered a missed cancer diagnosis, contact the Chicago medical malpractice attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., today. Call 855-618-4833 for a free consultation on your case.