Last Updated on April 16, 2024

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

Patients may be eligible to sue medical staff if their bladder cancer is diagnosed late. Bladder cancer is highly survivable when caught early. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. According to the World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition (WBCPC), patients with bladder cancer are typically diagnosed with another health condition at first (around 57% of sample cases reviewed). Such lapses allow cancer to progress and make the disease harder to cure. Negligent healthcare providers can be held liable for patient harm. 

In the US alone, around 82,290 new cases of bladder cancer have been recorded in 2023. The 5-year relative survival rate of bladder cancer (all stages considered) is 77.9%, which is relatively high among all cancer types. 

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Bladder Cancer Misdiagnosis

Circling back on the study provided by the WBCPC, here are some key findings related to bladder cancer misdiagnosis:

Misdiagnosis is common57% of bladder cancer patients were initially diagnosed with another condition, most frequently urinary tract infections (UTIs), potentially delaying treatment.
Gender disparities existWomen are 69% more likely to be misdiagnosed with UTIs.
Symptoms are sometimes not taken seriouslyOne in five patients felt their symptoms were not taken seriously at first, – particularly women (31%); younger patients (33%); and those with advanced cancers (31%).
Delayed referrals are commonWhile most patients saw their doctor once or twice before being referred to a specialist, 10% had to visit five or more times. This was also more common among women (18%); younger patients (16%); and those with advanced/metastatic cancers (21%).
Patients also contribute to delayed diagnosisNearly a third of patients waited longer than a month to see a doctor after noticing symptoms, often due to confusion with other conditions or believing the symptoms were not serious.

While various systematic and personal factors contribute to delayed diagnosis, it is a doctor's responsibility to mitigate any medical errors. Failing to do so puts them at risk for medical malpractice claims.

Survival Rates and Screening Tests

Early detection is a key factor in battling cancer. Naturally, bladder cancer survival rates plummet as diagnosis gets delayed further. Here are the 5-year relative survival rates for bladder cancer, as provided by the American Cancer Society:

STAGE5-Year Relative Survival Rate
All Stages78%
In Situ (Stage 0)96%
Localized (Stage 1 or 2)71%
Regional (Stage 3)39%
Distant (Stage 4)8%

Several screening tests are available to doctors so that they may catch the disease early. Such procedures are especially important for high-risk patients. Failing to prescribe necessary tests promptly also constitutes medical malpractice. Some of the more common bladder cancer screening tests include: 

Urinalysis (and Hematuria Test) – Hematuria is red blood cells in the urine. This test checks for red blood cells in urine samples using a microscope or special test strip. The test may be conducted multiple times over a period.

Urine Cytology – a lab test wherein a patient’s urine sample is examined under a microscope to identify any abnormal cells that may indicate the presence of cancer or other issues.

Urine Tumor Marker – a test that detects specific substances in urine that are either produced by the body in response to the cancer. The presence of these markers can help diagnose certain types of bladder cancer.

Cystoscopy –  a thin lighted tube (called a cystoscope) is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. This allows doctors to visually inspect the inside of the bladder and urethra for any abnormalities. If needed, tissue samples can be collected for biopsy during the procedure.

Apart from prescribing and executing exams on time, doctors must also provide accurate evaluations of these tests. In 2019, it was reported that around 46% of medical malpractice claims for cancer misdiagnosis involved improper diagnosis from primary care doctors.

Treatments for Bladder Cancer

Treatment options for bladder cancer vary from patient to patient. Apart from the current stage of their disease, various demographic factors are also taken into consideration. Treating bladder cancer typically involves:

According to the National Cancer Institute, a total of $9.4 billion was spent by patients for bladder cancer treatments in 2020. On an individual level, average spending is further divided into three phases – initial care, continuing care, and end-of-life. The average per-patient spending for these phases is as follows:

PhaseMedical ServicesOral Prescriptions
Initial Care
(1st year following diagnosis)
$26,442.8$624.6
Continuing Care(every year that follows)$6,350.4 per year$520.5 per year
End-of-Life
(last year before the patient passes away)
$95,985.4$1,353.4

All medical expenses incurred following a cancer misdiagnosis can be rightfully compensated with the help of expert medical malpractice lawyers. Both past and future expenses are considered when filing for compensation.

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Legal Implications and Compensation

Several key elements must be established before a medical malpractice claim becomes valid. A thorough initial investigation of your case is needed to do so. One of your legal counsel’s responsibilities includes gathering all documents relevant to your case.

With the aid of respective medical experts, your legal team would work towards establishing the following:

Duty of Care – “Was there an appropriate doctor-patient relationship?
Breach of Duty – “What actions/inactions from your doctor were subpar by medical standards?
Causation – “Did your doctor’s mistakes directly cause you harm?
Damages – “What did the malpractice cost you?

Apart from economic damages (i.e., medical expenses and lost wages), non-economic losses are also factored in when accounting for compensation. Emotional distress, reduced life expectancy, and lower quality of life are only some examples of non-economic damages.

Over the last five years (2019 to 2023), the National Practitioner Data Bank recorded 51,913 medical malpractice payments. On average, these claims received $378,856 as legal compensation. Do note, however, that this figure involves even minor incidents of medical malpractice. Please refer to our previous wins for better insight.

Speak to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

Bladder cancer is highly treatable when detected early. At the Porter Law Group, we do everything in our power to get medical malpractice victims the compensation that they need. We take pride in helping families recuperate and rebuild.

If you have any questions regarding cancer misdiagnosis, please reach out for a no-obligation, free consultation. We operate on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t have to pay anything unless we win.

You may also contact us at 833-PORTER9 or info@porterlawteam.com to schedule an appointment.

Written By
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.
Legally Reviewed on April 11, 2024
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.
This Article Was Professionally Reviewed
This page was Legally Reviewed by Eric C. Nordby on April 11, 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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