Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis and failure to diagnose cancer can lead to wrongful death or difficult treatment options in many situations where it may have been easily treatable and even cured.

According to the online journal Cancer, about 12 percent of cancer patients are initially misdiagnosed. Delays in diagnosis and treatment can drastically affect the survival rate of a patient, and make many treatment options, including chemotherapy, surgery or bone marrow transplants, prolonged, very difficult or ineffective.

How is Cancer Commonly Misdiagnosed?

Cancer may be misdiagnosed if a physician or specialist fails to properly assess the following:

  • Presence and type of cancer
  • Location of the cancer
  • Stage, or severity, of cancer
  • Conditions related to the cancer

What Can Happen as the Result of Cancer Misdiagnosis?

Any of these misdiagnoses can lead to the following harmful outcomes:

  • Delayed diagnosis may allow the cancer to progress from a curable to incurable stage.
  • As a result of delayed diagnosis, the patient may be forced to undergo more aggressive treatment exposing the patient to greater risks.
  • Misdiagnosing the severity or stage of the cancer could needlessly put the patient through harmful and painful treatments, like radiation or chemotherapy.
  • A misdiagnosis could result in the need for complicated medical procedures which increase the chance of surgical complications and death.

Let the Attorneys and Medical Investigators at Schochor, Federico and Staton Help You

Schochor, Federico and Staton focuses its practice on representing those harmed as a result of medical malpractice. Since our firm has been exclusively handling medical malpractice cases since our founding in 1984, we have a thorough understanding of how to build strong lawsuits to help plaintiffs pursue the maximum compensation possible when health care providers fail to diagnose or misdiagnose cancer. We have filed more medical negligence cases than any other law firm in Maryland and have won over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts.

Contact us online or call us today at 410-234-1000 to speak with one of our attorneys about your case. You pay nothing unless we make a recovery on your behalf.


Cancer can affect nearly every part of the human body. Symptoms for each particular form of cancer vary, though there are critical signs that the American Cancer Society has identified as general symptoms that can sometimes be linked to cancer. They are:

  • Breast Mass. A new or enlarging mass in the breast or armpit may be a sign of cancer.
  • Changes in bowel and/or bladder function. Altered bowel function, including blood in the stool, or blood in the urine can be a sign of bowel cancer or kidney/bladder cancer.
  • Unexplained weight loss. Drastic weight loss of over 10 pounds which occur without reason may be a symptom of cancer.
  • Fever. Fevers occur at some point with most cancer patients, though it is typically associated with later stages of cancer that has spread from it’s starting point.
  • Fatigue. Whether through blood loss in cancers such as leukemia or through general exhaustion, fatigue is often attributed to many stages of cancer growth.
  • Pain. Pain is common in later stages of many cancers, including brain, colon, rectum and ovary.
  • Skin changes. Skin changes don’t just occur in skin cancer. Symptoms include enlarging moles on the skin, darker-looking skin, yellowed or reddened skin, irritation and excessive hair growth.


It is critically important to go to your doctor if you notice any abnormalities, lumps or spots that have recently appeared or changed for unknown reasons. Your physician should be well-versed in the symptoms and causes of cancer, and be able to correctly diagnose any possible health complications.

Although cancer can take shape in many areas of the body, there are a few forms of cancer that are misdiagnosed more than others. These include breast, lung and colorectal cancer. This is due to both their high prevalence, as well their similarities to other, less life-threatening diseases. (For example, colorectal cancer may be mistaken for diverticulitis.) Paying particular attention to signs or symptoms that affect these areas of the body can help protect you from a misdiagnosis.


Patients who are diagnosed with cancer are often met with treatment options based on the specific type, stage and location of their cancer. These can include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery
  • Transplant
  • Laser therapy
  • Heat therapy
  • Gene therapy
  • Biological therapy
  • Drugs, often called targeted cancer therapy