Last Updated on February 22, 2024

Can You Sue If You've Been Diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer Late?

According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of all major cancers. The 5-year relative survival rate for its earliest stage (localized stage) was reported to be at 44%. This survival rate significantly plummets at the later stages of the disease – 16% for the regional stage and 3% for the distant stage. With these figures, the impact of early detection and treatment cannot be understated.

Pancreatic cancer is notably hard to detect early, but not entirely impossible under the right medical guidance. Screening protocols for high-risk patients have been put in place to catch the disease early. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is fairly common – delaying diagnosis and treatment, ultimately putting patients in unfairly disadvantaged positions.

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Was Your Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosed Late?

If you or a loved one has suffered pancreatic cancer malpractice, please reach out to us for a no-obligation free case evaluation.

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This guide aims to inform individuals whose pancreatic cancers were potentially mishandled. It covers key medical and legal perspectives, including your rights as a patient and the process of building a malpractice lawsuit.

Understanding Pancreatic Cancer

The early stages of pancreatic cancer do not exhibit any symptoms. Most of its signs and symptoms only arise once the cancer has advanced.  Moreover, pancreatic cancer shares these early signs with various diseases – making the initial diagnosis tickier.

Common initial symptoms of pancreatic cancer include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Jaundice
  • Unexplained weight loss and appetite changes
  • Abdominal and/or back pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Gallbladder or liver enlargement
  • New-onset diabetes

In 2015, an annual report from Digestive Disease Week cited that pancreatic cancer misdiagnosis occurred in 31% of the 300 cases they studied.

Pancreatic Cancer Malpractice at a Glance

Medical malpractice can occur at any point in your journey. Substandard medical care will always be subject to medical malpractice claims. There are four key elements that you need to establish to strengthen your claim, and they are as follows:

Breach of Duty - The plaintiff must show, typically with expert testimony, that the doctor breached this duty of care by deviating from the accepted standard of medical care. Examples could include misdiagnosis, surgical error, medication error, failure to order a necessary test, etc.
Damages - Proof must exist showing the patient suffered tangible injuries, damages, or losses stemming from the medical negligence. This can include physical injuries, additional medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future income, pain, and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life.
Causation - There must be a causal connection between the doctor's breach of duty and the plaintiff's alleged injuries or damages. The plaintiff must show the breach of care more likely than not caused the injury.
Damages - Proof must exist showing the patient suffered tangible injuries, damages, or losses stemming from the medical negligence. This can include physical injuries, additional medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future income, pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life.

Working with lawyers who specialize in medical malpractice can help you establish these key elements. Such lawyers work alongside medical experts (oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, gastroenterologists, etc.) when handling such claims.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim

Though the overall process may seem daunting, it is good to note that about 90% of medical malpractice cases end in out-of-court settlements. This means that you may be rightfully compensated without going to trial. As such, it is important to work with seasoned professionals to ensure that everything goes smoothly (and that you are properly compensated).

Here are some general steps to follow:

  1. Consult an Attorney: Consult with a qualified medical malpractice attorney to review your case and determine the validity of a lawsuit based on standards of care and the impact of delayed diagnosis. An expert medical malpractice lawyer can assess the likelihood of proving negligence.
  2. Request Medical Records: Formally request copies of complete medical charts and diagnostic test results from all physicians and healthcare facilities involved in diagnosis and treatment. Medical history documentation is crucial for gathering evidence.
  3. Retain Expert Witnesses: Have the medical records thoroughly reviewed by independent oncology specialists to provide expert testimonies on how care standards were breached, causing missed diagnoses and patient harm via disease progression. Credible experts can strengthen causation claims.
  4. Prepare Witness Testimonies: Mediate agreement with the defendant's legal team on parameters around expert witnesses presenting at trial to argue respective positions regarding adherence to or deviation from diagnostic duties. Graphs and statistics may be utilized to support analysis.
  5. File Lawsuit Paperwork: Work with an attorney to file official civil complaint paperwork that clearly outlines counts of negligence and/or liability against defendants based on investigation findings and expert input. Factual justifications and monetary damages should be emphasized.

These steps are not solely for you. Feel free to seek guidance from your legal representative as needed. Again, it is important to work with an attorney experienced with medical negligence claims. Look for specialists with an extensive background in malpractice, specifically pancreatic cancer. Having someone who requires no upfront fees from a potential client is always a sign of good faith. 

Financial compensation may be warranted to account for medical expenses, projected care costs, lost income and benefits, and emotional distress. While monetary remedies cannot restore one's health, they provide stability in your battle against pancreatic cancer and can deter your condition from worsening. 

Talk to a Pancreatic Cancer Malpractice Expert

At Porter Law Group, we do our best to safeguard the best interests of you and your family. Our team of seasoned medical malpractice lawyers and licensed medical experts will provide you with the care and attention you deserve.

If you or a loved one has suffered pancreatic cancer malpractice, please reach out to us for a no-obligation free case evaluation. You can also contact our office at 833-PORTER9 or message us at 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 February 15, 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 February 15, 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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