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Failure to diagnose a concern in Jan Cervical Cancer awareness campaign

According to research conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine, there are roughly 530,000 cervical cancer cases diagnosed throughout the world every year. However, despite medicinal and other technological advancements in the U.S., approximately 4000 female fatalities from cervical cancer still occur annually in the U.S. This statistic is attributed in part to many physicians misdiagnosing or failing to take adequate measures to detect cervical cancer.

To heighten awareness about the condition, Congress has designated January as National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.

The National Cervical Cancer Coalition-a nonprofit entity that provides education and awareness about cervical cancer and HPV-is one organization that is helping to educate females about the taking proactive measures to guard against the condition and help physicians detect the cancer at an early stage.

Understanding Cervical Cancer and the causes

Cervical Cancer is a cancer that strikes the lower part of a female uterus known as the cervix. One of the top causes of the cancer, however, is the human papillomavirus. HPV, as it's known, is a sexually transmitted infection. Almost 80 million people in the U.S. presently have HPV.

Many individuals may not realize they have the infection. To some, the disease may not even pose a serious real health issue. But for others, HPV can cause cancer and other serious health problems if left undetected or untreated.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent cervical cancer. One way is by getting the HPV vaccine. Another way is through regular screenings. According to guidelines issued by the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer screenings, such as cytologic testing, should be done as early as age 21 and cytologic and HPV testing every 5 years. These screenings can detect a change in cells of the cervix at an early stage before the cancer even begins.

Failure to diagnose

However, some doctors or other medical professionals fail to order such necessary screenings or tests for patients-particularly patients who may be classified as high risk. Other times, laboratories incorrectly read the tests. Given the prevalence of electronic medical records utilized today, some results get mixed-up between patients if multiple files are being accessed simultaneously.

As the clock ticks without any action, cervical cancer, like other types of cancers, will continue to assail the human body until there is intervention to stop the growth. A failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis cervical cancer in females can lead to the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body-and can lead to death. Cervical cancer develops over many years and that is one of the reasons that screening is effective in reducing its resultant death and disability.

Legal recourse

It's important for patients to understand that any physician's failure to take proactive measures to detect cervical cancer, order proper tests, or even misdiagnose the condition may create a cause of action for medical malpractice in a court of law. Laboratory test results need to be checked to ensure that tests were properly read.

Injured parties may be able to obtain compensation as a result of their injuries, such as medical and rehabilitation expenses and lost wages, among others. However the types of compensation available will depend on each individual circumstance. Consulting with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who understands t he law and who can offer assistance as it pertains to individual injuries is advised as the first step.

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