Last Updated on May 3, 2024

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

Patients may be eligible to sue medical staff if their eye cancer is diagnosed late. Eye cancer can affect any kind of cell in the eye. The most common among its types is ocular melanoma, a type of cancer that starts in the eyeballs of adults.

While this cancer is fairly rare relative to other types of cancer, doctors must provide their patients with accurate diagnoses so that prompt treatments may be given. Doctors who fail to provide an early diagnosis – or at least prescribe needed screening tests – may be held liable for medical malpractice. 

Hospitals can also be held liable if any of their organizational errors have contributed to the delayed diagnosis of cancer. Some examples of these organizational errors include (but are not limited to) mismanaging patient records, using poorly maintained testing tools, or premature discharge. Reach out to medical malpractice lawyers to get your case evaluated and established.

The American Cancer Society expects around 3,320 new cases of eye cancers – 90% of which are melanomas. Note that medical malpractice can occur at any point within your diagnosis and treatment. Do not hesitate to reach out to legal professionals for any concerns.

Eye Cancer Misdiagnosis

According to a recent study, many cases of missed cancer diagnoses are rooted in errors made by primary physicians. These common errors include:

  • Inaccurate diagnosis of symptoms and test results
  • Failure to order necessary test procedures
  • Failure to refer patients to respective specialists

These errors have led to great patient harm by allowing cancer to progress. Primary doctors need to refer their patients to respective specialists or prescribe necessary procedures so that patients may be tested for eye cancer.

Like most other cancers, symptoms of eye cancer can be vague and are non-exclusive. Without the right test procedures, a cancer patient may be diagnosed with these conditions that mimic eye cancer :

CONDITIONDESCRIPTION
ConjunctivitisRedness, swelling, and discharge from the eye.
UveitisInflammation of the uvea (the middle layer of the eye), causes redness, pain, and blurred vision.
ChalazionA benign, painless bump on the eyelid caused by a blocked oil gland.
GlaucomaIncreased pressure within the eye, causing gradual vision loss, often without initial symptoms.
CataractsClouding of the eye's natural lens, resulting in blurred or hazy vision.
AllergiesSeasonal or perennial allergies can cause itchy, red, and watery eyes.

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What Are The First Signs of Eye Cancer?

Signs and symptoms of eye cancer include the following:

  • Blurry vision or sudden loss of vision
  • Seeing spots/squiggles drifting in the field of vision (floaters)
  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Losing part of your field of sight
  • Growing a dark spot on the iris
  • Change in size/shape of the pupil
  • Shifting of the eyeball within the socket
  • Change in the way the eyeball moves within the socket
  • Bulging of the eye

However, these symptoms may vary depending on which part of the eye is affected by the disease. In some cases, symptoms only present themselves once the cancer has become more advanced. Still, doctors must catch the disease as early as possible to provide their patients with the best trajectory against it.

Moreover, some of these symptoms may even be deemed normal by negligent healthcare providers. Given that pain is rare for eye cancer, unsuspecting patients may be inclined to believe this initial diagnosis. 

What Are The Odds of Getting Eye Cancer?

Various factors determine the likelihood of contracting eye cancer for individuals. These risk factors may be lifestyle-related, while some are more inherent. Let’s take a quick look at the more biological factors.

EthnicityThe risk for eye cancer is higher in White people relative to African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans.
Eye ColorPeople with lighter eye color are more likely to develop eye cancer, specifically uveal melanoma
Age & SexThe risk for this disease is higher in older patients. It is also slightly more common in men than in women. 
Dysplastic Nevus SyndromeAn inheritable condition characterized by the presence of numerous atypical moles. It has been associated with an increased risk for skin and eye cancer.
Oculodermal MelanocytosisA congenital disorder characterized by excessive pigment-producing cells in the skin and eyes. It has been associated with an increased risk for uveal melanoma.
BAP1 Cancer SyndromeA rare inherited condition that tends to form aggressive cancers at younger ages.

Certain lifestyle-related factors such as cigarette smoking and frequent exposure to UV radiation have been linked to increased risk for eye cancer. According to some studies, welders and those who use tanning beds often also have an increased risk of contracting eye cancer. Doctors must consider these risk factors when diagnosing/prescribing patients who show symptoms of eye cancer.

Eye Cancer Survival Rate and Treatment Options

Eye cancer is a highly treatable disease, with an overall 5-year relative survival rate of 81% (all cancer stages considered). Naturally, patients have a better chance of overcoming the disease when it is detected early. Let’s now look at how eye cancer survival rates are depending on what stage they are diagnosed.

STAGE5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Localized (Stage 1 or 2)85%
Regional (Stage 3)67%
Distant (Stage 4)16%

By catching the disease at its earlier stages, doctors allow their patients to get treatments promptly. This effectively hinders the disease from developing any further. Otherwise, should the disease remain unchecked, it could spread and be harder to treat down the line.

Several factors are considered when treating eye cancer. This includes: 

  • The site and stage of the cancer; 
  • The patient’s overall health; 
  • Chances of curing the disease; and 
  • Effects of the treatment on the patient’s vision. 

Conventionally speaking, treatments for eye cancer include the following:

Advanced stages of eye cancer may require stronger complementary treatments. In the next segment, let’s look at the estimated medical costs for treating cancer.

Establishing a Claim and Getting Compensated

Medical expenses can quickly add up, especially in the later stages of the disease. Holistic treatments for eye cancer are not cheap. The National Cancer Institute devised three distinct phases when estimating expenses for cancer treatmentsinitial care, continuing care, and end-of-life care. As of 2020, they estimate that cancer patients in the US will spend upwards of $200 billion yearly.

Given limited spending data on eye cancers, here are the average annual expenses of cancer patients in the US:

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

Aside from medical expenses, other economic and non-economic losses are also considered in medical malpractice claims. Lost income, emotional trauma, and decreased quality of life are only some of the more common losses that are also accounted for. Please refer to our previous wins for actual cancer misdiagnosis compensation figures.

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Before filing a medical malpractice claim, an initial investigation will be done by your legal counsel. In this investigation, your lawyer would aim to establish four key elements. Your claim will be rendered valid once these are established. Lawyers typically work with trusted medical consultants at this point. 

These four key elements are:

Duty of Care – Was there an appropriate doctor-patient relationship?
Breach of Duty – Did your doctor perform poorly/negligently based on accepted standards of care?
Causation – Did your doctor’s actions/inactions directly cause you harm?
Damages – What did these errors cost you?

The responsibilities of your medical malpractice lawyer also include gathering evidence, filing the case, accounting for damages, and negotiating your settlement. Be sure to work with someone you can trust – someone who will safeguard your best interest, and that of your family. 

Speak to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

At the Porter Law Group, our team of proven medical malpractice lawyers delivers ideal results.  We take pride in helping families rebuild after unfavorable circumstances.  We operate on a contingency basis – meaning you do not need to pay us anything unless we win your case. Through this approach, we can better support families during their times of need.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, please reach out to us for a non-obligatory free case evaluation. You can also contact us at 833-PORTER9 or  info@porterlawteam.com to schedule a consultation.

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 May 3, 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 May 3, 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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