North Carolina women often have many questions for their doctors regarding ovarian cancer. This disease is typically diagnosed in later stages, which can mean a lower survival rate. According to the medical director of integrative gynecologic oncology at Providence Saint John's Health Center, failure to diagnose ovarian cancer early is often caused by both women and their doctors overlooking early warning signs. A lack of knowledge or communication regarding risk factors could also lead to a late diagnosis.
There are a number of generic symptoms common to the early stages of ovarian cancer. The misdiagnosis of these as menstrual or gastrointestinal issues without considering the possibility of cancer could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Without an up-to-date understanding of diagnostics, doctors can easily overlook chronic bloating, pain in the abdomen or pelvis, indigestion, rapid weight changes and other warning signs.
Another potential source for doctor error is a lack of recognition and communication of risk factors to patients. A family history of the disease is possibly the most well-known indicator. However, heredity only accounts for 10 percent of ovarian cancer cases. Other risk factors include vitamin D deficiency, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. While patients are not bound to follow doctor recommendations, the doctor can use this information to suggest screening for early-stage cancer.
Misdiagnosed patients can face severe outcomes, such as financial problems, lifelong illness, loss of career or death. For those who feel their doctor has failed them, an attorney may be able to review the facts, gather evidence and determine whether doctor error warrants a medical malpractice lawsuit.