Last Updated on May 24, 2024

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

In some cases, victims can sue if they've been diagnosed with thyroid cancer late due to the negligence of their healthcare provider. This is known as a medical malpractice claim. It’s worth noting that various personal and systemic factors contribute to the delayed diagnosis of cancer. 

Thyroid cancer, when left untreated, will progress and can spread to other organs. Failing to detect this cancer early effectively puts a patient’s health in jeopardy. Some types of thyroid cancer progress slowly and may take years to show initial symptoms. One specific type of thyroid cancer (anaplastic thyroid cancer) is notably the most aggressive – with symptoms presenting themselves within weeks or months.

About 44,020 new cases of thyroid cancer are expected within the US throughout 2024. 

How Quickly Does Thyroid Cancer Progress?

Thyroid cancer’s progression generally depends on the specific type of the disease. Other factors such as age, stage of the disease, and extent of spread also impact the disease’s development. Considering its various types, the progression of thyroid cancer is as follows:

Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC): This is the most common type, accounting for about 80% of cases. PTC generally grows slowly and has an excellent prognosis, with a 10-year survival rate of over 90%.

Follicular thyroid cancer (FTC): The second most common type, FTC also tends to grow slowly. The 10-year survival rate is slightly lower than PTC but still over 90% in most cases.

Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC): Accounting for about 4% of thyroid cancers, MTC is more aggressive than PTC and FTC. It tends to grow and spread more quickly. The 10-year survival rate is around 80% if caught early but drops significantly if the cancer has spread.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC): This is the rarest but most aggressive form of thyroid cancer. ATC grows and spreads rapidly, often within weeks or months. The prognosis is poor, with a median survival of about 6 months after diagnosis.

While some types of cancer offer a very positive trajectory, one type stands out because of the risk that it poses. Let’s look at the per-stage survival rate of various types of thyroid cancer. 

STAGE5-Year Relative Survival Rate
(Stage 1 or 2)
Regional (Stage 3)99%98%92%11%
Distant (Stage 4)74%67%43%4%

Naturally, survival rates decline when the disease is caught at later stages. These figures are tangible insights as to why delayed diagnoses made by negligent healthcare providers warrant further legal action. 

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What Can Be Confused for Thyroid Cancer?

Like most other cancers, the initial symptoms of thyroid cancer are vague and non-exclusive. Because of this, negligent healthcare providers may be led to believe that an affected patient is suffering from a less severe condition. 

Some of the earliest symptoms of thyroid cancer include: 

  • A lump in the neck, sometimes growing quickly
  • Swelling in the neck
  • Pain in the front of the neck, sometimes going up to the ears
  • Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Trouble breathing
  • A constant cough that is not due to a cold

Seek medical attention as soon as these symptoms present themselves. However, getting checked up does not mean that your doctor would identify your cancer right away. This is another example of medical malpractice you can take legal action against. Doctors must always recognize the need for thyroid cancer screening tests – making early detection possible.

Otherwise, without screening, they might dismiss your thyroid cancer for the following:

GoiterAn enlarged thyroid gland can cause a visible lump or swelling in the neck.
Thyroid nodulesThese are solid or fluid-filled lumps in the thyroid gland, which are usually benign.
ThyroiditisInflammation of the thyroid gland can cause swelling, pain, and tenderness in the neck.
LaryngitisInflammation of the voice box (larynx) can cause hoarseness, voice changes, and a persistent cough.
LymphadenopathySwollen lymph nodes in the neck can be caused by infections, such as the common cold, flu, or mononucleosis.

Treatment Options and Annual Spending

Treatment options for thyroid cancer generally depend on the type and stage of the disease. Some of the conventional treatments for thyroid cancer include:

In more advanced cases of cancer, multiple complementary treatments may be prescribed. The goal of treatment may be to destroy as much of the cancer as possible; and to keep it from growing, spreading, or returning for as long as possible.

Medical bills can quickly pile up when treating cancers. On average, the annual spending of cancer patients (all types considered) in the US is as follows:

Medical ServicesPrescription Drugs
Initial Care (1st year after diagnosis)$43,516$1,874
Continuing Care (time in between)$5,518
per year
per year
End-of-Life Care (last year before passing away)$109,727$4,372

All medical expenses (past and future) are accounted for in all medical malpractice claims. Apart from medical bills, other economic and non-economic losses are also factored in – lost income, emotional trauma, and decreased quality of life are some of the more common inclusions. Please refer to our previous wins for actual cancer misdiagnosis compensation figures.

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Establishing a Claim for Compensation

Four key elements must first be pinpointed and established before any claim is rendered valid. Medical malpractice experts typically work with trusted medical consultants during this initial investigation. 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?

Apart from establishing your claim, the responsibilities of your cancer malpractice lawyer include gathering pieces of evidence, officially filing your case, and negotiating for your compensation.

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 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 24, 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 24, 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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