Last Updated on April 26, 2024

Can I Sue If I've Been Diagnosed with Adrenal Cancer Late?

Patients may be eligible to sue medical staff if their adrenal cancer is diagnosed late. However, adrenal cancers are very rare. The American Cancer Society estimates that only 200 patients are diagnosed with this disease annually. Benign adrenal tumors are also more common – so if a tumor was spotted on your adrenal gland, odds are it’s non-carcinogenic. Abnormal cell growth in the adrenal gland is most common in middle-aged and elderly patients; the average age of patients with adrenal tumors is 46.

Like most other cancers, early symptoms of adrenal cancer are vague and non-exclusive. Given the rarity of the disease, negligent healthcare providers could misdiagnose this cancer for another less severe health condition. 

Any delayed diagnosis caused by medical negligence may render the healthcare provider liable under the law for resulting patient harm. If you believe that you’ve been a victim of medical negligence, please reach out to seasoned medical malpractice lawyers to establish your claim.

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Is Delayed Adrenal Cancer Diagnosis Malpractice?

By diagnosing cancers late, medical providers effectively put their patients in harm’s way. Some medical malpractices that lead to delayed cancer diagnosis include:

  • Ignoring early symptoms of cancer
  • Misinterpretation of lab results
  • Failure to provide timely referrals
  • Inadequate follow-up

However, some types of cancers are difficult to detect early – adrenal cancer included. Despite this, healthcare providers have the professional and legal duty to safeguard the health of their patients. 

Various systemic and individual factors could also contribute to late cancer diagnosis. We advise that you coordinate with a legal counsel immediately, and have your case investigated by experts. Medical malpractice lawyers often work with professional medical consultants when trying to establish a claim

Adrenal Cancer Survival Rates

The survival rates for adrenal cancer vary greatly depending on what stage the cancer was diagnosed in. Generally speaking, cancer survival rates are lower for cases caught late. Below are the adrenal cancer survival rates as provided by the American Cancer Society.

STAGE5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Localized (Stage 1 or 2)73%
Regional (Stage 3)53%
Distant (Stage 4)38%

What Can Adrenal Cancer Be Misdiagnosed As?

Sharing its symptoms with other hormonal disorders, negligent/incompetent healthcare providers might misdiagnose adrenal cancer as the following:

Cushing's Syndrome: Caused by prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels. Symptoms: weight gain, fat deposits, stretch marks, excessive hair growth, menstrual irregularities, weakness, easy bruising, and weakened bones.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Hormonal imbalance affecting women. Its symptoms include menstrual irregularities, excessive hair growth, weight gain, and insulin resistance.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH): Genetic disorder affecting adrenal glands. Its symptoms include excessive hair growth, menstrual irregularities, high blood pressure, and low blood potassium levels.

Pheochromocytoma: Rare adrenal gland tumor causing excessive hormone secretion. Its symptoms include high blood pressure, headaches, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and high blood sugar levels.

Type 2 Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes that can cause weight gain, high blood sugar levels, weakness, and muscle cramps.

Thyroid Disorders: Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can both cause weight changes, weakness, muscle cramps, and menstrual irregularities.

Early symptoms of adrenal cancer vary based on which hormone is produced excessively by the patient’s organ. Here are some of the more common symptoms that are similar to the health conditions mentioned previously:

SYMPTOMS BASED ON EXCESSIVE HORMONES
AndrogenEstrogenCortisolAldosterone
Androgens are male sex hormones that regulate the development of male characteristics in the body.Estrogen is a female sex hormone that develops and regulates the female reproductive system.Cortisol is a hormone that regulates metabolism, immune response, & stress reactions.Aldosterone is a hormone that regulates blood pressure and salt-water balance in the body.
*early symptoms are relatively difficult to see in adult males

- Excessive growth of facial and body hair; enlargement of reproductive organs
(for children)

- Early puberty
(for young boys)

- Excessive facial and body hair; receding hairline; deeper voice; irregular menstrual periods
(for female adults)
*early symptoms are relatively difficult to see in adult females

- Enlarged breasts
(for young boys)

- Early puberty
(for young girls)

- Enlargement of breasts; tenderness of breasts; erectile dysfunction
(for male adults)
- Weight gain

- Fat deposits behind the neck and shoulders

- Purple stretch marks on the abdomen

- Excessive hair growth

- Menstrual irregularities

- Weakness and loss of muscle mass in the legs

- Easy bruising

- Weakened bones

- High blood sugar levels

- High blood pressure
- High blood pressure

- Weakness

- Muscle cramps

- Low blood potassium levels

Like most other cancers, early symptoms of adrenal cancer are vague. 

Healthcare providers must skillfully distinguish cancers from these less severe conditions. Various screening tests are available for suspected patients to get their cancer diagnosed early. As a means to also catch this cancer early, high-risk patients may be prescribed with such screening tests from time to time.

Treatment Options for Adrenal Cancer

Different stages of adrenal cancer demand different treatments. For those in advanced stages, simultaneous complementary treatments may be necessary. Conventionally speaking, the treatments for adrenal cancer typically include:

Medical expenses for cancer treatments can be segmented into three phases – initial care, continuing care, and end-of-life care. In 2020, around $208.9 billion was spent on cancer treatments by patients in the US. With data on adrenal cancer being limited, let’s look at the yearly medical expenses made by an average cancer patient (all cancer sites considered).

Medical ServicesPrescription Drugs
Initial Care(1st year after diagnosis)$43,516$1,874
Continuing Care(time in between)$5,518
per year
$1,041per year
End-of-Life Care(last year before passing away)$109,727$4,372

All expenses (past and future) incurred from medical malpractice should be compensated by at-fault healthcare providers. This ensures that patients can get access to all needed treatments and allows them to recuperate effectively. Apart from incurred expenses, other non-financial factors may also be factored in when seeking compensation. Lost wages, emotional suffering, and lower quality of life are only some of the factors that can be considered. 

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Legal Implications

Given the nature of medical malpractice claims, a thorough initial investigation is crucial. These investigations are usually done by medical malpractice lawyers and their respective medical experts. During the initial investigation, your legal team would aim to establish the following key elements:

Duty of CareWas there an appropriate doctor-patient relationship?
Breach of DutyDid your doctor perform poorly based on accepted standards of care?
Causation Did your doctor's actions/inactions directly cause you harm?
DamagesWhat did these errors cost you in turn?

Apart from establishing your claim, your legal counsel is also responsible for gathering all documents relevant to your case. This is the only means for these pieces of evidence to be usable in court. Your lawyers are also responsible for accounting damages and all subsequent settlement negotiations.

Speak with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

At the Porter Law Group, we take pride in helping families rebuild from unfavorable circumstances. We do our best so that you can better recuperate from cancer. If you have any questions regarding adrenal cancer misdiagnosis, please reach out for a no-obligation, free consultation.

You may also contact us at 833-PORTER9 or info@porterlawteam.com to schedule an appointment. If you are looking to pursue further legal action, we operate on a contingency basis – meaning you don’t have to pay anything unless we win.

Written By
Eric C. Nordby
Personal Injury Attorney
Eric, with nearly three decades of experience in personal injury litigation, holds a law degree with honors from the University at Buffalo School of Law and a Bachelor's Degree from Cornell University. His extensive career encompasses diverse state and federal cases, resulting in substantial client recoveries, and he actively engages in legal associations while frequently lecturing on legal topics.
Legally Reviewed on April 26, 2024
Michael S. Porter
Personal Injury Attorney
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike built a distinguished legal career after graduating from Harvard University and earning his juris doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law. He served as a Captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, gaining expertise in trial work, and is now a respected trial attorney known for securing multiple million-dollar results for his clients while actively participating in legal organizations across Upstate NY.
This Article Was Professionally Reviewed
This page was Legally Reviewed by Michael S. Porter on April 26, 2024. Our experts verify everything you read to make sure it's up to date. For information on our content creation and review process read our editorial guidelines. If you notice an error or have any questions about our content please contact us.
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