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Failure to Diagnose Cancer Case-How Does It Work?

You have just been diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer. In the back of your mind you believe that your doctor should have recognized your cancer earlier. What do you do?


Here's what I look for when evaluating a failure to diagnose cancer case:


I must be able to prove, that we are more likely right than wrong, that improper medical care resulted in significant and permanent injury to you. Each of those factors must be confirmed by a medical expert who has either treated you or reviewed your records.

In every failure to diagnose cancer case I need to know:
  1. What your current cancer diagnosis is
  2. What stage cancer you have
  3. What type of cancer you have
  4. Whether this is a “slow growing” or “fast-growing” cancer
  5. What symptoms or problems you originally had that the doctor should have done something that would have led him to conclude that you had some type of cancer
  6. What treatment you would have received if your cancer was diagnosed earlier
  7. Whether the treatment you are receiving now is different than what you would have receive if your cancer was timely diagnosed
  8. Whether your cancer has spread or metastasized from a localized area of your body
  9. What is your prognosis; that means, what did the doctors think about your chance of survival and life expectancy
  10. Your age
  11. Your occupation
  12. Whether you are married and have children
  13. What town you live in

Importantly, the key question to resolve is: If your cancer had been timely diagnosed, would your outcome or treatment be different?

The best person to answer that question is usually your treating oncologist. Although it is well recognized that most physicians will not critique or criticize their colleagues, it is still important to try and obtain much of the information listed above to give you a better understanding of whether things would have been different if you were diagnosed earlier.

Patients who are diagnosed with advanced forms of cancer often come to us with many questions. One of the most significant questions they raise is “If I have a valid lawsuit to proceed forward, what happens if I die during the course of my lawsuit?”

The answer is that the lawsuit continues on and a family member becomes the representative of your estate. Hopefully, we will have obtained your deposition testimony (a question and answer session held in my office where all of your questions and answers are recorded by stenographer). This will allow us to preserve your version of the events. In some cases we may also do a video deposition which will allow a jury, years later, to see you, hear you and get to know you during the course of your question and answer session.

This provides a basic overview of what an experienced medical malpractice attorney in New York looks for when investigating a failure to diagnose cancer case. If you have questions about a similar case, then I encourage you to pick up the phone and call me since I can answer your legal questions. You can reach me at 516-487-8207. I welcome your call.