Cervical cancer is a leading cause of death amongst women globally, and the American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 13,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer and more than 4,000 women will die from cervical cancer in 2017 alone.
Fortunately, cervical cancer is largely preventable and highly treatable if it is detected in its early stages. However, if a doctor or other medical professional fails to recognize the symptoms and warning signs of cervical cancer in West Palm Beach, it can quickly develop into an aggressive and deadly form of cancer.
If you or a loved one is suffering from cervical cancer due to a doctor’s misdiagnosis or a lab’s incorrect reading of a pap smear slide, contact a West Palm Beach cervical cancer malpractice lawyer today, to see how they can help.
Common Forms of Cervical Cancer
The most common form of cervical cancer is known as squamous cell. This form of cervical develops in the mucous tissue on the surface of the cervix. Fortunately, early stages of squamous cell cervical cancer can be treated in a minor operation by removing the cells on the superficial layer of the cervix.
However, if squamous cell cervical cancer is not detected in its early stages, it can quickly and aggressively spread beyond the cervix into the uterus and throughout the body.
Significant Warnings Signs
Research from nearly every reputable medical source, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society, the National Institute of Health, and the National Cancer Institute have uniformly found and advised that most early stage cervical cancer can be treated and cured, and that early detection reduces the mortality rate and other complications.
Some of the symptoms and warnings signs of cervical cancer in West Palm Beach may include:
- Vagina bleeding between periods
- Extended menstrual cycles or abnormally heavy menstrual cycles
- Post-menopausal bleeding
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Persistent pelvic pain
- Unusual vaginal discharge
Other symptoms may include:
- Lower back pain
- Blood in stool or urine
- Persistent diarrhea
- Unexplained weight loss
Importance of Recognizing Symptoms
Cervical cancer is largely curable when detected early and it is critical that a woman and her doctor understand and are able to identify the early warning signs and symptoms of cervical cancer. However, a major concern with identifying early signs of cervical cancer is that many of the above noted symptoms are shared by a variety of conditions, and a woman and her doctor may not be overly alarmed by one or more of these symptoms.
Unfortunately, this leads to many women suffering from advanced stages of cervical cancer because their doctor either failed to test and screen for cervical cancer, or the doctor or lab missed diagnosing early stage cervical cancer altogether.
Cervical Cancer Screening Tests
According to the National Institutes of Health, cervical cancer diagnoses and deaths have steadily declined over the past forty years. The steady decline in cervical cancer has largely been attributed to advances in testing and treatment procedures, and two of the most effective tests for detecting cervical cancer are the Pap Smear test and HPV screenings.
Today, doctors should conduct an annual pelvic exam, a Pap Smear, and an HPV screening to detect abnormal cervical cells which may indicate a woman has a chance of developing cervical cancer in the future or has early stage cervical cancer.
Doctors can often detect early signs of cervical cancer by conducting a Pap smear test, which should be a part of a women’s annual pelvic exam.
A Pap smear test consists of a microscopic examination of cervical cells that are removed from the cervix’s surface. The sample will then be sent off to a lab, where it will be read by technicians who will examine the sample for abnormal cells, which may develop into cervical cancer if left untreated. If a lab fails to detect cervical cancer by properly examining a Pap smear slide, the undetected cancer can spread.
An HPV test is used by doctors to look for the presence of high-risk types of human papillomavirus. When an HPV test is properly conducted it can detect HPV infections that may cause cell abnormalities. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a single HPV DNA test as an initial screening test for women over the age of 25.
Necessity of Testing
When these tests are conducted as part of a woman’s annual pelvic exam, doctors are more likely to identify early signs of cervical cancer. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why a doctor or lab may miss the early signs of cervical cancer including:
- Failing to conduct a thorough medical examination and examination of a woman’s history
- Failing to follow up on abnormal bleeding between menstrual cycles and to address other cervical cancer symptoms
- Failing to inform patients of abnormal test results
- Inadequate Pap Smear techniques by gynecologists or primary care doctor
- Technicians misreading Pap smear slides
- Misreading of biopsy specimens by pathologists
A doctor, lab or other medical professional who fails to detect and report abnormalities in cervical cells detected in routine test can place women at a significantly increased chance of either developing cervical cancer or suffering from advanced stages of cervical cancer. If you have questions concerning cervical cancer, get in touch with a determined cervical cancer attorney who can advocate for you.