Last Updated on May 31, 2024

Can I Sue If I've Been Diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma Late?

Yes, a patient may file lawsuits against negligent physicians if they had a late diagnosis of Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), particularly if the late diagnosis caused them serious harm.

It is possible to plead for a medical malpractice claim with a comprehensive investigation. These legal avenues enable patients who have suffered damage to receive compensation. It also ensures they can access the necessary medical care to address the injuries they have sustained.

In the US, 400 to 500 new cases of rhabdomyosarcoma are diagnosed every year, a number that has remained relatively constant over the previous few decades.

These cases, which are always persistent, demonstrate the severity of the cancer. Therefore, a late diagnosis should be avoided so patients and their families won’t go through challenging psychological and financial crises. 

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Risk & Survival Rates of Rhabdomyosarcoma in Adults and Kids

Rhabdomyosarcoma is more frequent in children under the age of 10. When the cancer is detected in adults, the prognosis is typically worse. Adults 40 years of age or older had a markedly increased risk of death in comparison to those under 40.

The survival rate of rhabdomyosarcoma in adults and children are as follows:

Risk Level5-Year Survival Rate
Low-risk (adults)47%
Low-risk (children)70-90%
Intermediate-risk (children)50-70%
High-risk (children)20-30%

*The degree of risk depends on the age and stage of cancer the patient has. Children below 10 years old typically have a higher chance of recovery. 

Most cancers in the advanced stages have low survival rates, which is exacerbated if the treatment is delayed due to a late diagnosis. This is why medical providers must accurately analyze a patient’s illness to prevent unwanted outcomes. 

Conditions Mistaken for Rhabdomyosarcoma

Negligent doctors might attribute rhabdomyosarcoma symptoms to other less or severe conditions such as:

Medical ConditionDescription 
Benign tumorsLipomas, fibromas, and neurofibromas are non-cancerous growths in soft tissues. 
These tumors can cause painless lumps or swelling, which may be mistaken for RMS.
Other soft tissue sarcomasLeiomyosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and synovial sarcoma are other types of malignant soft tissue tumors that can cause symptoms similar to RMS.

Due to a variety of soft tissue sarcomas, different treatment methods are suggested for different patients based on the tumor’s stage, grade, kind, and location.
LymphomaBoth Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are cancers of the lymphatic system that can cause swollen lymph nodes.

In some cases, lymphoma may present as a soft tissue mass, particularly in the head and neck region. This can be confused with RMS.
NeuroblastomaNeuroblastoma can cause symptoms similar to RMS when it arises in the abdomen or pelvis. 

However, neuroblastoma is more common in children under 5 years old at a 90% rate and may be associated with paraneoplastic syndromes.
Inflammatory conditionsCellulitis (a bacterial skin infection), abscess (a localized collection of pus), or hematoma (a pool of mostly clotted blood) can cause localized swelling and pain, which may mimic the presentation of RMS.

They tend to develop more rapidly than RMS and may respond to antibiotic treatment or surgical drainage.
Infectious diseasesSome infections, such as toxoplasmosis (caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii) or cysticercosis (caused by the tapeworm Taenia solium), can cause lumps or masses in the soft tissues that may be mistaken with RMS.

Similar to the majority of other cancers, rhabdomyosarcoma often presents with unclear symptoms that might be mistaken for other, less severe illnesses as stated above. 

The following are a few of the early signs of rhabdomyosarcoma:

  • Tumors in the neck, chest, back, arm, leg, or groin may cause lumps, swelling, pain, redness, or other issues.
  • Eye tumors can cause bulging, crossed eyes, and vision problems.
  • Ear or sinus tumors may lead to earaches, headaches, nosebleeds, or congestion.
  • Bladder, prostate, or vaginal tumors can cause blood in urine or vaginal bleeding and difficulty urinating or defecating.
  • Abdominal or pelvic tumors may cause vomiting, pain, or constipation.
  • Bile duct RMS is rare but can cause jaundice.
  • Advanced RMS may cause lumps, bone pain, cough, weakness, or weight loss.

If you experience any of these symptoms, visiting a doctor is important. Always remember that many of these signs and symptoms may be caused by conditions other than RMS. If necessary, seek medical attention to identify and treat the underlying cause.

Treatment and Annual Spending

The type of rhabdomyosarcoma and its stage upon diagnosis determine the course of treatment. Generally, one or more of the following may be used as RMS treatments:

Medical expenditures from numerous prescription treatments could go up rapidly. Since 2020, US cancer patients have incurred yearly costs of $208.9 billion on a national scale. This could go up due to late or undetected medical practitioner diagnosis. 

When it comes to drug costs for rhabdomyosarcoma, the Children’s Oncology Group conducted a clinical trial on randomized RMS patients to the following:

  • A combination of vincristine, dactinomycin, and cyclophosphamide (VAC) alone; or 
  • VAC, alternating with vincristine plus irinotecan (VAC/VI).
CategoriesMean Directional Costs
Vincristine, dactinomycin, and cyclophosphamide (VAC)$164,757 
VAC alternating with vincristine plus irinotecan (VAC/VI)$102,303

When a patient pleads for a medical malpractice claim, a comprehensive assessment of all medical expenses (past and anticipated future costs) is conducted. Beyond the direct medical expenses, the claim also considers other economic and non-economic losses suffered by the victim.

Lost income, emotional trauma, and decreased quality of life are some of the more common considerations. For actual compensation figures, please refer to our previous wins.

How to Establish a Claim for Compensation

An initial investigation is required to establish a claim. Medical malpractice experts typically work with trusted medical consultants for this.

During said investigation, the legal team would aim to establish the following elements:

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?

Once these elements have been pinpointed and established, the legal team can now file a claim. Our proven trial attorneys can help you increase your chances of getting compensation. 

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Speak to a Rhabdomyosarcoma Cancer 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 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 31, 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 31, 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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