Misdiagnosing Lung Cancer

Cancer Misdiagnosis

Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer.  In the United States it is the leading cause of cancer deaths.  People who are aged 50 and over are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer.  More than 80% of cases are caused by tobacco use due to the dangerous carcinogens contained in cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products.  The inhalation of asbestos and radon as well as other chemicals and pollutions are other cause of lung cancer.  Additionally, if a person has a history of tuberculosis and other lung diseases then they are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer.

Given that lung cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect, it is often difficult or impossible to treat once it has been detected.  It is often the case that lung cancer will be detected while a patient is being tested for a different condition.  For example, malignant lung tissue can be detected when a patient is having a chest X-ray done for a heart condition.  When there are warning signs of lung cancer, a doctor needs to take the appropriate measure or the patient may be left to unnecessarily suffer.


The symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Blood clots
  • Blood sputum
  • Bone pain
  • Chest pain/pain when breathing
  • Coughing/wheezing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Pain in other body parts
  • Pneumonia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Speech problems
  • Swelling of the neck, face, and upper extremities
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss


When diagnosing lung cancer, physicians will look for enlargements of lymph nodes, liver, and abdomen, as well as other symptoms of a lung mass.  For a complete diagnosis, a chest x-ray (to look for growths), a sputum test (which involves coughing up phlegm for the detection of lung cancer), and a spirometry (to test a patient’s pulmonary function so it can determine whether the airways have been obstructed or narrowed) are required.  A diagnosis may also include a biopsy.

Misdiagnosis of lung cancer may occur if a doctor does not perform the proper diagnostic tests.  In some of these cases, lung cancer may be diagnosed as something less serious.  Misdiagnosing or delaying the diagnosis of lung cancer may prevent a patient from receiving the necessary medical care to increase his or her chances of survival.

Once diagnosis has been made, the doctor will then determine the state of the disease to establish the proper course of treatment.  The standard lung cancer treatments, such as surgery radiation, and chemotherapy, unfortunately have al low rate of success.  For better chances of success, patients are often encouraged to participate in clinical trial.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of lung cancer, then you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com.  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.