Cervical cancer, affecting cells in the cervix, ranks as the fourth most common cancer in women across the globe, with approximately 500,000 new cases and 250,000 related deaths reported annually. Regrettably, inadequate screening methods, misinterpretation of test results, and lack of awareness contribute to cervical cancer misdiagnosis.


Cervical Cancer


The American Cancer Society reports that annually, more than one million people in the United States receive a cancer diagnosis. Cancer occurs when cells uncontrollably proliferate, resulting in the transformation of normal cells into cancerous cells. Sometimes, the immune system can eliminate cancer cells, but they can also evade detection through certain strategies. Consequently, cancer cells can grow unchecked until they are diagnosed and treated.

Cervical cancer is widespread worldwide, particularly among women. In the United States alone, it is estimated that around 75% of women contract human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection, a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer. Carcinoma of the cervix ranks among the most common malignancies in women and causes approximately 5,000 deaths annually in the United States.


How common is cervical cancer?


The American Cancer Society has released the following statistics for cervical cancer in the United States for 2023:

– Approximately 13,960 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed.
– Around 4,310 women will succumb to cervical cancer.

Additionally, it is important to note that cervical pre-cancers are diagnosed more frequently than invasive cervical cancer.


Cervical Cancer Statistics 


Cervical cancer does not discriminate by age, although it is relatively rare for a woman under 20 to receive a diagnosis. Statistics indicate that the majority of cervical cancer patients are between 35 and 44 years old, while it remains possible for women to be diagnosed at an older age. Women over 65 account for approximately 15% of diagnosed cases. Certain groups face a higher risk of developing cervical cancer, with the highest risk observed among Hispanic women, followed by black, Asian, and Caucasian women.


Cervical Cancer Symptoms


Regrettably, cervical cancer might not exhibit any symptoms, potentially evading detection for years and posing increased challenges for treatment as it advances. Nevertheless, women should be aware of warning signs such as experiencing vaginal bleeding after sex, between periods, or after menopause, as well as encountering abnormal vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, or discomfort.


Gynecologists and Cervical Cancer


Gynecologists play a crucial role in screening, diagnosing, and treating cervical cancer. Proper screening and diagnosis involve performing a pap smear and HPV test and correctly interpreting the results. These screening methods are particularly effective in detecting squamous cell cervical cancer, which is the most common type. Screening identifies squamous cell cervical cancer as the cells undergo an incubation period before becoming cancerous.

However, it is important to note that the Pap smear has limitations. It may capture only a small number of abnormal cells among a large number of normal cells (50,000 to 300,000). Additionally, there are cases where Pap smears do not identify cervical disease, leading to false negatives that can delay treatment.


Medical Malpractice Lawsuits


Medical malpractice lawsuits often involve misdiagnosis of cervical cancer, which typically centers around the administration or interpretation of Pap smears. Sometimes, doctors neglect further investigation of a Pap smear, indicating the need for additional scrutiny. Instead of adopting a “wait and see” approach to abnormal test results, conducting a colposcopy and biopsy is crucial.

Alternatively, errors may occur in interpreting results rather than identifying mistakes in the collection process that could compromise the accuracy of findings. After a Pap smear, a trained cytotechnologist evaluates the sample for adequacy and signs of abnormal cells. Suspicious Pap smears are then referred to a pathologist. Any breakdown or error at any stage of this process can lead to misdiagnosis and subsequent malpractice lawsuits.


Common reasons for cervical cancer misdiagnosis


Cervical cancer misdiagnosis can occur for various reasons, and misdiagnosis often leads to inadequate treatment or a delay in proper diagnosis. As a result, a misdiagnosis can negatively impact the patient’s health and increase the risk of spreading the cancer to other parts of the body.


Misinterpreted Test Results


Receiving a diagnosis of cervical cancer can cause immense fear, but it is even worse to discover that an earlier detection is possible. Misinterpreting test results is one of the leading causes of misdiagnosis for this type of cancer. Doctors may overlook abnormal cells during a pap smear, resulting in a false negative result. Regular screening tests and diligent follow-up on any abnormal results are crucial. If you receive a diagnosis that seems incorrect, do not hesitate to seek a second opinion. It may make all the difference in catching cancer early or receiving a late-stage diagnosis.


Miscommunication between Healthcare Providers and Patients


Highly treatable, cervical cancer can have devastating consequences if misdiagnosed due to miscommunication between healthcare providers and patients – a common occurrence. Healthcare providers possess the necessary knowledge and expertise for accurate diagnoses, but patients often lack awareness of precautionary measures and lifestyle changes that influence test results. Additionally, patients may fail to disclose crucial information, resulting in incomplete diagnoses. Honesty and open communication are crucial to prevent misdiagnoses and provide effective treatment for cervical cancer.


Faulty Medical Equipment


Although human error can contribute to misdiagnosis, faulty medical equipment can cause it. Equipment malfunctions can lead to inadequate imaging or erroneous test results, resulting in incorrect diagnoses. To prevent misdiagnosis related to equipment, healthcare providers must regularly maintain and calibrate medical equipment. By ensuring machines are in proper working order, healthcare providers can minimize the risk of misdiagnosis and provide the best possible care for their patients.


Similar Symptoms to Other Conditions


Distinct symptoms indicating cervical cancer are not always separate from other conditions, such as infections or menstrual irregularities. These symptoms include vaginal bleeding, discharge, and pelvic pain. The diagnosis of cervical cancer presents a significant challenge for healthcare practitioners as they must recommend additional tests and procedures to rule out other conditions before settling on a diagnosis. By doing so, healthcare providers offer women appropriate treatment and ensure they receive the necessary medical care to maintain their overall reproductive health.


Not performing the necessary tests or follow-ups


Even the best healthcare providers can occasionally overlook something during an exam or neglect to follow up on a test. A delayed diagnosis or inappropriate treatment can result from not conducting necessary tests or follow-ups, which could harm your health. Placing trust in healthcare providers is crucial, but patients must also take an active role in their health. If something feels off or the diagnosis seems questionable, seeking a second opinion or discussing further testing with your healthcare provider could make a significant difference in the quality of care you receive.


Effective Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer


Regular Pap smears are necessary for sexually active women, irrespective of experiencing symptoms, to detect irregular or abnormal cells. If medical professionals detect such cells, they may perform the following diagnostic tests:

  1. Colposcopy: Using a colposcope to examine the cervix.
    2. Biopsy: Taking a sample of abnormal tissue for further examination.
    3. Endocervical scraping: Scraping and removing samples of tissue lining the endocervical canal.
    4. Cone biopsy: Surgically removing a cone-shaped piece of cervical tissue.

Having a physician oversee these diagnostic tests is crucial to ensure accurate interpretation of results. Misinterpreted results can lead to delayed treatment, posing a fatal risk.


The Consequences of Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis


The battle against cancer is never easy, but misdiagnosis raises the stakes significantly. Cervical cancer misdiagnosis has serious consequences, frequently occurring and leading to significant risks. Each year, this disease claims the lives of around 4,000 women in the United States. Recognizing the gravity of the situation and the importance of early detection takes just a moment; early-stage cervical cancer has a 5-year survival rate of around 92%. However, if the cancer has spread to nearby organs or tissues at the time of diagnosis, the survival rate drops significantly to 58%. Delayed or incorrect diagnosis is often the main culprit, depriving women of valuable treatment time that could potentially limit cancer progression and save lives. Raising awareness about early detection and advocating for accurate diagnosis and treatment is crucial to ensure women receive the care they need to combat cervical cancer.


The Basics of Pap Smear Misdiagnosis Lawsuits


To file a lawsuit for a misdiagnosed pap smear, you must demonstrate that the medical professional who conducted the test deviated from the standard of care. This means that the doctor acted below the acceptable standard of care, resulting in harm. Additionally, it is crucial to establish a causal connection between the breach of care and the injury or damage suffered.

Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Ohio is within one year of the time the cause of action occurred. In Michigan, the deadline is extended to two years from the date of the misdiagnosis. Some exceptions to the generally accepted statute of limitations exist, so it is essential to speak with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.


Legal Options for Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis


Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event that necessitates prompt and accurate diagnosis and treatment. Regrettably, healthcare providers may sometimes misdiagnose cervical cancer due to negligence or malpractice. If you have been a victim of such misdiagnosis, it is crucial to understand your legal options. Many states have laws protecting patients from negligent or reckless medical care, and seeking compensation can aid in recovering financial losses associated with medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress. By taking legal action, you can hold healthcare providers accountable and help prevent future misdiagnoses.


Fight For Justice With Our  Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers


If you or a family member experienced a delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis due to a doctor’s negligence, it’s essential to know that you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You could receive compensation to cover various expenses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and future medical costs. Additionally, if the misdiagnosis resulted in the death of a loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to offer compensation to surviving family members. The Ohio and Michigan licensed medical malpractice lawyers at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault can help you seek proper justice and hold the doctor or hospital accountable for their mistake. Act now to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to by contacting us today at 419-843-6663 or using our convenient online contact form.