Last Updated on May 14, 2024

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

Negligent healthcare providers/facilities that have caused harm by diagnosing their patients late may be sued for medical malpractice. Cancer, when allowed to develop to its more advanced stages, poses a great risk for affected patients – making delayed diagnosis a valid grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Vaginal cancer accounts for a very small portion of all cancer cases in the US and is notably rare. In women, this disease accounts for 1% to 2% of all female genital tract cancers. It is more common in older women, with 67 being the average age of diagnosis.

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Vaginal Cancer Misdiagnosis

In a recent study, it was found that missed cancer diagnoses often stem from 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

Like most other cancers, symptoms of vaginal cancer are non-exclusive. This means that patients may be inclined to believe that the symptoms that they are experiencing are not urgent. While such personal factors also contribute to delayed diagnosis, doctors remain responsible for prescribing the correct medical route for their patients. With careful consideration, healthcare providers must realize the need to request necessary screening tests for vaginal cancer.

What Conditions Mimic Vaginal Cancer?

Symptoms for vaginal cancer do not always indicate the presence of the disease. In fact, its symptoms can often refer to other less severe conditions. Symptoms for vaginal cancer include (but are not limited to):

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding (often after sex)
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • A mass or lump in the vagina that can be felt
  • Pain during sex
  • Painful urination
  • Constipation
  • Pain in the pelvis or low in the belly
  • Back pain
  • Swelling in the legs

Unsuspecting medical providers can often misdiagnose vaginal cancer due to the ambiguity of these symptoms. Here are some less severe conditions that mimic symptoms of vaginal cancer:

CONDITIONSSIMILARITIES
Vaginal Yeast Infectionabnormal vaginal discharge and itching
Bacterial Vaginosisabnormal vaginal discharge with a strong odor
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)painful urination, pelvic pain, and back pain
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)pelvic pain, painful urination, and abnormal vaginal discharge
Uterine Fibroidspelvic pain, back pain, constipation, and abnormal vaginal bleeding
Endometriosispelvic pain, painful intercourse, and abnormal vaginal bleeding
Vaginal Atrophy painful intercourse and vaginal bleeding
Chlamydiaabnormal vaginal discharge and pelvic pain
Gonorrheaabnormal vaginal discharge and pelvic pain
Vulvodyniapain during intercourse and a burning sensation in the vulvar area

Survival Rates for Vaginal Cancer

With a 5-year relative survival rate of 51% (all stages considered), vaginal cancer is among the more challenging cancers to treat. Naturally, cases diagnosed early have higher survivability compared to those diagnosed at later stages. Here are the per-stage survival rates of vaginal cancer as provided by the American Cancer Society:

STAGE5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Localized (Stage 1 or 2)69%
Regional (Stage 3)57%
Distant (Stage 4)26%

The disparity in these survival rates further emphasizes the importance of early detection when battling cancer. With these figures alone, we can better understand how negligent doctors endanger their patients through delayed diagnoses. 

Treatment Options and Expenses

Treatments for vaginal cancer typically depend on the stage and type of the disease. More advanced cancers may require more aggressive complementary treatments,  Some of the more conventional treatments include:

For pre-cancer stages, laser surgery and topical therapy may be prescribed.

With the need for complementary treatments, medical expenses for treating vaginal cancer can quickly pile up. According to the National Cancer Institute, US cancer patients would spend upwards of $200 billion for medical treatments starting 2020.

When estimating the annual spending of cancer patients, three distinct phases are acknowledged – initial care, continuing care, and end-of-life care. Given the lack of data on vaginal cancer spending, here’s the average annual spending for all cancers:

Medical ServicesPrescription Drugs
Initial Care (1st year after diagnosis)$43,516$1,874
Continuing Care (time in between)$5,518
per year
$1,041
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 Your Claim

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  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 14, 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 14, 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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