Lung cancer can be highly aggressive and spread quickly throughout the body. The longer it is left untreated, the harder it is to remove all metastases, which is why early detection is crucial.
Many people who are at high risk of developing lung cancer might not be aware of their options for diagnosis. It is up to their physician to start them on timely diagnostic and screening tests, for example, low-dose CT scans. Only early detection can lead to the best prognosis and greatest chance of survival if they develop the disease.
Yet despite knowing a patient’s list of risk factors and symptoms, lung cancer may go undiagnosed in far too many cases. A delayed diagnosis can cause it to progress to stages III or IV, leading to more invasive treatment, higher medical bills, decreased quality of life, and even death.
Eligibility Criteria for Lung Cancer Screening
According to the US Preventive Services Task Force, a patient should be screened for lung cancer if:
- They are 55 years or older with a smoking history
- They have a 30 pack-year history or greater
- They currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years
A pack year is described as an individual that smoked an average of one pack of cigarettes per day within a year. For example, a person might also be considered having a 30 pack-year history if they smoked two packs a day for 15 years.
When a patient meets any of the above criteria or describes symptoms associated with lung cancer, it is up to the primary care physician to order screening procedures, such as chest x-rays (both PA and Lateral views), laboratory studies, pulmonary function tests, low-dose CT scans, or a combination of these.
Low-Dose CT Scans For Lung Cancer Diagnosis
The symptoms of lung cancer are similar to those of the common cold, which makes it difficult to detect in its early stages. However, without proper screening during this critical time, lung cancer may progress to a point that becomes immensely difficult to treat.
One technological advancement that many doctors are turning to is a low-dose CT scan. This is a special type of x-ray that takes multiple detailed pictures of the lungs, and the analysis of these pictures have proven to be effective in the early detection of lung cancer.
- According to the American Lung Association, if lung cancer is caught before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving five years or more improves to 56 percent.
- The New England Journal of Medicine published a study from 2006 showing that low-dose CT screening identified lung cancer at Stage 1 in 85 percent of the study participants, increasing their survival rate.
- According to a study by the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), low-dose CT scans can help reduce the mortality rate of those at high risk by 20 percent.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney at The Simon Law Firm
Health care physicians who fail to recognize a patient’s history and thus fail to order the proper screenings—such as low-dose CT scans—may be held liable for the physical, mental, and financial harm caused by their negligence.
Every medical malpractice case is unique, and whether or not the primary care physician was negligent will depend upon the facts. Our attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation into the situation to determine the source of the mistake. We dedicate hours of our time to personally research medical literature, review all medical claims, and speak to medical experts. We fight to hold negligent parties responsible.
“The dangerous nature of lung cancer, combined with known risk factors of a history of smoking and age, make it a no-brainer for physicians to screen early and often. If your health care providers failed to detect your lung cancer in a timely manner, it is worth your time to let us investigate whether medical malpractice occurred.”
– Erica Slater, attorney at The Simon Law Firm.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer and you believe the doctor failed in his/her duty to designate the proper diagnostic screening, you may be entitled to file a claim to receive a just settlement. Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at The Simon Law Firm.