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Under most circumstances, a woman who has annual pelvic exams and PAP smears should never be diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. While it is true that there are few warning signs or symptoms associated with early cervical cancer, there is an effective cancer screening tool to put your doctor on notice of changes occurring in your cervix – the PAP smear. This test looks for and identifies precancerous changes. Since most cervical cancers progress or grow slowly, it is highly unlikely that a woman would go from having a “normal” PAP smear one year to advanced cervical cancer the next. If this would occur, red flags should be raised regarding the accuracy of the PAP smears in the years preceding the cancer diagnosis. If you or someone you know has had regular gynecological care, complete with yearly PAP smears and you have been diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer, you should consult a medical malpractice attorney. The experienced cervical cancer misdiagnosis lawyers of Richards & Richards, LLP have handled multiple medical malpractice cases involving the delayed diagnosis of cervical cancer. Contact us to get the answers you deserve.
It is astounding how many cases there are involving the misreading of women’s PAP smears, not just once, but over the course of several years. In Washington County, just outside of Pittsburgh, a woman has filed suit claiming her PAP smears, read by the same pathologist, were missed for at least five years. While this may seem like a unique or unusual circumstance, it is not. All too frequently, hospital laboratories and large lab corporations are failing to adequately and accurately interpret PAP smears. The result of misreading a PAP smear can be devastating. A PAP smear is the only screening tool for precancerous cervical cells so its interpretation must be accurate. There is no room for error. After a diagnosis of cervical cancer, most women are surprised to learn that PAP smears are typically not read by a doctor. They are most commonly screened by a technician with very little education or training. There have been thousands of cases where the cytotechnicians (non-doctors) reviewing PAP smears or even the pathologists (doctors) themselves misread one or more consecutive PAP smears. Do not let this happen to you. Stay on top of your annual screenings and question any type of atypical findings on your PAP smears. If you suspect your PAP smears have been misread, contact Richards & Richards, LLP.
Being diagnosed with cervical cancer can be devastating. However, most cervical cancers start as a precancerous condition called dysplasia and the cancer usually develops very slowly. When detected early by PAP smear, cervical cancer is almost always 100% treatable. Treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer, the size of the tumor and your age and general health. There are ways to surgically remove the precancerous or cancerous tissue without fully removing the uterus so that you can still bear children. Your doctor may suggest a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), cryotherapy or laser therapy. If the cancer is more advanced, you may need a hysterectomy or radiation and chemotherapy. Once you have a diagnosis, arm yourself with as much information as possible and talk to your doctor about the staging of your cancer and the best course of treatment for you. Here is a link to common questions and answers about cervical cancer.
If you suspect that your cancer diagnosis was delayed in any way, you should contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Richards & Richards, LLP online, or call 412-261-2620 for a free review of your delayed diagnosis of cervical cancer claim.