Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis

Information on Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuitscervical cancer lawsuit

Approximately 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. Prevalence of cervical cancer is highest among Hispanic women, followed by African American women and white women. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a major risk factor for cervical cancer. Over 6 million new HPV infections in men and women are reported each year in the US, with 10% of infections in women leading to persistent dysplasia or cervical cancer.

Maryland has a comparatively low cervical cancer death rate. But the numbers are still too high and too many Maryland doctors miss cervical cancer at a stage where the patients could still be cured.

If you believe you have a potential malpractice claim call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation here.

Why a Missed Cervical Cancer Diagnosis Results in a Lawsuit

There are a lot of medical negligence suits involving cervical cancer for a simple reason: survival rate depends critically on early diagnosis. Women diagnosed early by their doctors generally have good outcomes. Early stage diagnosis has a 5-year survival rate of 80-90%. If cervical cancer is missed – either through malpractice, a defective test, or the symptoms were not noticed or recognized by the patient - survival rates decline. Stage II, III and IV cancer with the latter having only a 15% 5-year survival rate. Stating the obvious that is true with every cancer: an early and accurate detection is key to the best prognosis and mental and emotional well-being of women.

Cervical Cancer Testing and Prevention

The Papanicolaou test (also known as Pap test or Pap smear) has been accredited to the significant decrease in cervical cancer deaths in the past 40 years. Prior to Pap tests, cervical cancer was responsible for the highest death rate among cancers affecting women. The annual direct costs of cervical cancer in the U.S. was estimated to be $6 billion prior to the introduction of the HPV vaccine (which has generated a lot of new interest of late in the Republican debates).


Pap tests screen for cell changes on the cervix or pre-cancers, which can give woman a huge head start in knowing whether they are at risk. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women are recommended to be screened every two years from age 21 to 30 and every three years thereafter, provided their last three tests were normal, until the age of 60 or 70 at which time, based on the patients history, tests may be no longer be necessary. Approximately 55 million Pap tests are performed annually in the US. Approximately 3.5 million tests are abnormal.

Pap tests are not a diagnostic test, but are used to identify the presence of abnormal cells. Diagnostic tests include colposcopy (a scope which is used to look at the cervix), biopsy, endocervical scraping, and cone biopsy. If diagnostic tests are not performed, effective treatment options may be delayed.

How Inaccurate Tests Can Make Matters Worse

Some cases that appear to be cervical cancer misdiagnosis cases are actually due to defective testing. This may be an unpreventable false negative or negligence on the part of the testing facility. Obviously, inaccurate test results – false negatives and false positives - can lead to anxiety and affect overall health of a patient. But, of the two false negative is obviously the greater concern. False positive tests are usually due to the presence of squamous intraepithelial lesions. A false positive test will require the woman to undergo further testing, possible biopsy and can result in undue pain and anxiety for the patient. It is estimated that false negative tests occur 5-50% of the time, 80% of these are true false-negative tests and 20% are due to laboratory error.

The accuracy of Pap tests can be diminished by several factors including incorrect timing of the test (test should be conducted 10 to 20 days following a woman's last menstrual period to avoid blood in the sample); douching; vaginal medicines and spermicides, used within 2 days of the test (which can wash away or hide abnormal cells; clinician factors (incomplete or inaccurate capture of medical history and risk factors such as HPV, improper storage of slides, incorrect or unlabelled slides, inadequate sampling, performing test in presence of an infection); and laboratory factors (misinterpretation or failure to identify cell type and poorly controlled technical process). Further lesions can be missed if they are small, invasive, or deep in the cervical canal.

A Lawyer for Your Failure to Diagnose Cervical Cancer Claims

Missed cancer diagnosis cases in Maryland are tough. If you or someone you love has suffered as the result of a medical misdiagnosis, call Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082 or get a free no-obligation medical misdiagnosis consultation.

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