lawsuit accuses upmc oncologist of delayed diagnosis of cancer

There is perhaps no three-word phrase more universally feared among patients than “you have cancer.” These three little words will invariably change not only the patient’s life, but the lives of the patient’s friends and family members as well. It goes without saying that, given the gravity of the stakes involved, physicians — particularly oncologists — must do everything in their power to diagnose cancer as soon as possible so that it can be properly treated and the patient given the best possible chance.

A lawsuit filed this past Monday in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court by the husband of a woman who died of liver cancer in June 2012 accuses both the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one of its oncologists of failing to do just this.

According to the complaint, the woman had suffered from a blood disorder since she was a child and had to be seen by a doctor in the years thereafter to monitor a chronic inflammation of her lymph nodes. After two separate CT scans, one in 2005 and one in 2007, her treating physicians noted the presence of a liver lesion and referred her to a UPMC oncologist.

This oncologist, says the complaint, proceeded to conduct two PET/CT scans of the woman and advocated for so-called “watchful waiting” of the lesion during an August 2008 examination, saying he would perform a scan sometime during the next year.

However, the compliant goes on to state that the oncologist failed to schedule this scan, leading the woman to seek a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in May 2011. Unfortunately, the physicians there determined that the enlarged liver lesion was actually a malignant liver tumor.

The woman ultimately died after the cancer spread, enduring a long and painful ordeal.

According to the medical malpractice lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, the UPMC oncologist failed to monitor or perform the necessary tests on a known lesion, which later ballooned to the size of a grapefruit and necessitated a diagnosis at another facility.

Please visit our website if you believe that a medical professional’s failure to diagnose cancer caused you or your family irreparable harm.

Source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “UPMC, cancer doctor named in lawsuit for alleged malpractice,” Gavan Gideon, August 6, 2013

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