A new study has found that patients in North Carolina and across the United States who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes after the age of 50 may actually be displaying an early symptom of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is currently one of the deadliest types of cancer with an average five-year survival rate of 8 percent.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, looked at 50,000 Hispanic and African-American men and women over the age of 50 for a period of 20 years. None of the study participants had pancreatic cancer at the beginning of the study. Approximately 16,000 participants developed Type 2 diabetes during the course of the study; 400 of these individuals developed pancreatic cancer. The study found that people who developed diabetes after the age of 50 were twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer compared to those who didn't develop diabetes. In most of the cases, pancreatic cancer developed within three years of a diabetes diagnosis.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer normally include abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss and extreme fatigue. Obesity, smoking and being of an older age put individuals at a greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Approximately 55,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year; early diagnosis may help increase survival rates.
Failure to diagnose a medical condition or failing to look at the link that the condition could have to other diseases may be considered medical malpractice. In order for it to be considered medical malpractice, however, it must be proven that the doctor acted negligently when misdiagnosing the patient or failing to test the patient for other conditions.
In this case, a lawyer may consider the evidence that medical malpractice occurred by failing to test a patient over the age of 50 for pancreatic cancer after a diabetes diagnosis. This might include looking at inquiries from state medical boards, gathering testimony from nurses or other patients and presenting evidence that shows that if the cancer was caught earlier, it may have been treatable. If negligence is proven, the patient or family members may receive compensation for medical care or their loss.