What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer originates in the prostate. “The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland in males that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.” (1)
Prostate cancer is a common type of cancer in men. Some prostate cancers grow slowly. They remain in the prostate gland and rarely cause serious harm. These types may not even require treatment. (2)
However, some types of prostate cancer are aggressive. These types can spread quickly. (3)
Prostate Cancer Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among men,” other than non-melanoma skin cancer. (4)
Statistics for one year show 211,893 men were diagnosed with new prostate cancers. A total of 31,488 men died from this cancer. (5)
According to data from the New York State Department of Health, prostate cancer cases and deaths for the years 2014-2018 were: (6)
- Ages 40-44 years: 52 average prostate cancer cases diagnosed, average of less than 1 death.
- 45-49 years: 240 cases, 6 deaths.
- 50-54 years: 910 cases, 21 deaths.
- 55-59 years: 1,944 cases, 49 deaths.
- 60-64 years: 2,823 cases, 111 deaths.
- 65-69 years: 3,237 cases, 161 deaths.
- 70-74 years: 2,496 cases, 217 deaths.
- 75-79 years: 1,499 cases, 262 deaths.
- 80-84 years: 731 cases, 302 deaths.
- 85+ years: 542 cases, 595 deaths.
What Are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
In its early stages, you may not notice any signs or symptoms of prostate cancer. More advanced prostate cancer may mean you have: (7)
- Trouble urinating.
- Decreased force in your stream of urine.
- Blood in your urine.
- Blood in your semen.
- Bone pain.
- Weight loss without trying.
- Erectile dysfunction.
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How Common Is a Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis?
According to one study, roughly 50% of the men were told they had a less aggressive form of prostate cancer when they actually had a more aggressive form. Those men who were told their cancer wasn’t particularly dangerous were given “false hope.” The severity of the disease was underestimated. (8)
Two types of screening tests are used to detect early stages of prostate cancer. However, “neither the PSA test nor the DRE is 100% accurate.” (9)
PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. These can be detected in a man’s blood.
A DRE or digital rectal exam is another screening test. For this exam, “the doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland.” (10)
Incorrect Test Results
The idea is if the results come back abnormal, you are advised to undergo further testing. But if neither test is 100% accurate, you can receive an incorrect diagnosis. You might be told your screening is normal when you actually have cancer. (11)
Saying you don’t have cancer can give you a false sense of security. You might have cancer. If it’s untreated, it leads to progressive disease. (12)
Or you could be told you do have cancer, but you really are not sick. Inaccurate tests can lead to unnecessary, expensive treatments. These treatments can lead to side effects such as urinary, bowel, or sexual difficulties. (13)
What Qualifies as a Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Did your doctors fail to do something they should have? All of these errors could qualify as prostate cancer misdiagnosis: (14)
- Failing to offer or recommend cancer screening.
- Failing to obtain your comprehensive medical history.
- Failing to perform a thorough physical exam.
- Failing to order and interpret your radiographic pathologic findings correctly.
- Failing to consult with an oncologist specializing in genital and urinary cancer.
If you have a type of cancer called small cell carcinoma (SCC) of the prostate, you have a rare but aggressive type of prostate tumor. “Delay in diagnosis and misdiagnosis further worsens the outcome of this disease.” (15)
The first step in successfully treating prostate cancer is getting an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms of advanced disease include: (16)
- Difficulty urinating.
- Confusion and other neurological problems.
- Sensory or motor deficits.
Risks Associated with Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis
The earlier a prostate tumor is diagnosed, the better. A delayed diagnosis can mean an increased risk of disease progression possible resulting in inoperable cancer, more physical pain, erectile dysfunction, and higher medical costs.
Doctors diagnose the stage of your cancer. Staging includes four stages and three parts: tumor, nodes, and metastasis (TNM). Doctors consider the size of the tumor, if the tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and if the cancer has spread. (17)
Ideally, doctors find a tumor only in your prostate itself. These tumors are more likely to be treated successfully. “Tumors that have metastasized are incurable and require drug based therapies to treat the whole body.” (18)
If doctors do not diagnose your tumor until it has advanced, time-consuming, costly, and complex treatments may be necessary, such as: (19)
- Bone-targeted therapy.
- Hormone therapy.
Depending on the treatments you undergo, many side effects are possible. These include: (20)
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Weight gain.
- Bone pain.
- Nerve damage.
- Hair loss.
- Memory loss.
- Mood swings.
- Loss of muscle mass.
- Weak bones or brittle bones.
Filing a Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit
If you or a loved one suffered harm because your prostate cancer was misdiagnosed, you may want to file a lawsuit. The key question is: Was your medical professional negligent? (21)
Most medical malpractice claims are linked to misdiagnosis. Most payouts to plaintiffs — 34% — are due to this misdiagnosis. In addition, 22% of payouts are for surgical errors and 20% are for treatment errors. (22)
To be considered medical malpractice, a reasonable “standard of care must have been breached by the medical professional.” You must have suffered an injury as a result of the error. The mistake must have been “the cause” of your injury. (23)
“All medical malpractice cases will need proof, and this burden is on you and your legal team. … It’s best to discuss your case with a lawyer who can assess all of the facts. (24)
If you have suffered from a prostate cancer misdiagnosis, contact us today for a free case review.
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How W&L Can Help
Weitz & Luxenberg was founded in Manhattan. We have been representing clients throughout the state of New York for decades.
Our team of experienced medical malpractice and wrongful death attorneys can help you. We can provide you with legal guidance for your specific circumstances.
Plus, we have a proven record of achieving favorable outcomes for our clients. Here are a few examples of our successes:
- $2.35 million settlement — A daughter lost her mother because her pancreatitis was misdiagnosed by multiple hospitals and medical professionals. The young mother’s condition continued to worsen, ultimately leading to respiratory failure and death.
- $2.2 million settlement — A young son lost his mother due to misdiagnosed complications following her tonsillectomy. She sought help at an ER, but hospital personnel sent her home without diagnosing and treating the real problem. The mother died because her surgical wound ruptured.
- $1.2 million settlement — A family lost a loved one because a surgeon used defective equipment during the woman’ surgery. She had undergone a routine tummy tuck at an outpatient facility, later suffering a pulmonary embolism and then dying.
- $1.1 million settlement — A family lost a beloved family member because the man’s doctor did not inform the 70-year-old of his stage 1 colon cancer. By the time he learned of his condition, the cancer was too advanced to treat successfully, and he died.
- $500,000 settlement — A woman’s misdiagnosed pelvic inflammatory disease led to permanent damage to her uterus and lifelong medical complications. Time and again, doctors misdiagnosed her condition and performed damaging, invasive, debilitating surgical procedures. All of this nearly cost the woman her life.