Last Updated on April 10, 2024

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

Patients may be eligible to sue medical staff if their cervical cancer is diagnosed late. The cervix is the segment between the uterus (womb) to the vagina (birth canal). This part of the female reproductive system is covered with two different types of cells – glandular cells and squamous cells. Cancer may originate within both these types of cells.

When looking into cervical cancers, types are distinguished based on what cell the cancer originates from. These include:

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Cervical cancers that originate in squamous cells lining the exocervix (part border lining the vagina). Up to 9 out of 10 cervical cancers are of this type.
  • Adenocarcinoma – The majority of the remaining cervical cancers are of this type. They originate in glandular cells that produce mucus for the endocervix (lines the cervical cavity).
  • Adenosquamous Carcinoma (Mixed Carcinoma) – A less common type that where cancer originates in the endo- and exocervix. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, there were around 13,960 new cases of cervical cancer across the US in 2023. Reports from 2013 to 2019 suggest that the 5-year relative survival rate for the disease (all types and stages considered) is at 67.2%.

READ MORE: Beauty YouTuber Jessica Pettway, Dies of Cervical Cancer After Misdiagnosis

Common Reasons for Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis

Cancer misdiagnosis can cause serious harm to patients, and as such put doctors at great risk for medical malpractice liability. In a 2019 study analyzing 2,155 medical malpractice cases rooted in cancer misdiagnosis, researchers found these common reasons:

  1. Doctors failing to diagnose symptoms and results;
  2. Doctors failing to order necessary diagnostic exams;
  3. Doctors failing to provide timely referrals;

The study also found that most missed cancer diagnoses could have been caught during routine screenings; or if patients have been referred earlier. Eighty-five percent of all the missed diagnoses analyzed in the study lead to high-severity patient harm.

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Survival Rate and Screening Tests

Early diagnosis is a key factor in successfully beating cancer – allowing patients to get treatments promptly. The National Cancer Institute provides the following survival rates for cervical cancer:

STAGE5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Localized (Stage 1 or 2)91.2%
Regional (Stage 3)59.8%
Distant (Stage 4)18.9%

Notice how the cervical cancer survival rate plummets when the disease is diagnosed at later stages. Delayed diagnosis allows cancer to progress and ultimately sets patients up for an uphill battle. Professionals who commit any related medical malpractice can be sued.

Several screening tests are available for the early detection of cancer. These early detection mechanisms allow patients to get immediate attention for their conditions – especially for high-risk patients. In the case of cervical cancer, these two screening tests are the most indicative:

HPV Test – Contracting human papillomavirus (HPV) is an important indicator for developing stage cancer. Some high-risk HPV types are likely caused by cervical cancer. This test should be done regularly for women 25 to 65 years old.
Pap Test – Sometimes called a Pap smear, this test collects cell samples from the cervix. These samples are then studied under a microscope, allowing doctors to spot any abnormalities. 

Treatment Options for Cervical Cancer

Various specialized doctors – such as gynecologists and oncologists – can assist in a cervical cancer patient’s treatment. As outlined by the American Cancer Society, conventional treatments for the disease include:

These treatments may be used complementarily. The extent to which these treatments are utilized vary depending on how developed the disease is.

When looking at average expenses for treating cervical cancer, we can look into three distinct phases. These phases and their subsequent average spending are as follows:

PhaseMedical ServicesOral Prescriptions
Initial Care
(1st year following diagnosis)
Continuing Care$3,956.0 per year$0.0
(final year before passing away)

In 2020, around $2.3 billion was spent by cervical cancer patients across the US for treatments alone – which is relatively modest when compared to other types of cancers. Keep in mind that any medical expenses incurred following a late diagnosis should be compensated by the at-fault medical provider.

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Legal Implications and Compensation

Should you feel inclined to sue your doctor, it’s best to coordinate with expert medical malpractice lawyers for guidance. These legal experts would allow you to establish and strengthen your claim. Their insights are crucial when trying to pinpoint the specific instance/s of medical malpractice/s.

Your chosen legal counsel would also help you gather all relevant documents needed for the initial investigation of your case. During said investigation, your team’s goal is to establish the following key factors:

Duty of Care – “Was there an appropriate doctor-patient relationship?
Breach of Duty – “Did your doctors fail to uphold the standard of care?
Causation – “Did your doctor’s actions/inactions directly cause you harm?
Damages – “What did the medical malpractice cost you in turn?

A medical malpractice claim is only valid once these factors have been established.

Apart from medical expenses, other facets of life are also considered when seeking medical compensation. Lost wages, emotional damages, and having a lower quality of life – these are only some aspects your lawyer would factor in when seeking compensation.

According to the National Practitioners Data Bank, 21,244 medical malpractice claims were reported to have been settled throughout 2022-2023. On average, these claims were compensated with $395,118. Do note, however, that this figure includes even minor incidents. Please refer to our previous wins for more insights.

Speak to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

Cervical cancer is highly treatable if detected early. At the Porter Law Group, we take pride in helping families rebuild from unfavorable circumstances. If you have any questions regarding cancer misdiagnosis, please reach out for a no-obligation, free consultation.

You may also contact us at 833-PORTER9 or 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
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 10, 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 10, 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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