Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among males over the age of 50. Over 99% of the cases occur in males that are over age 50. However, there is recent evidence that the cancer is so slow growing that it actually exists for years prior to the diagnosis, just at a sub-clinical level. Early detection is a very important aspect of treatment, but it isn’t without its controversy.

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that is responsible for the mixing of fluid during intercourse, aiding in the production of ejaculate. It is typically the size of a walnut, and plays a very important role in the reproductive system. A prostate cancer occurs when the cells interior to the prostate stop secreting semen, mutate into cancer cells and begin to spread. As with most cancers, there exists a chance for prostate cancer to spread throughout the body by utilising the lymph system and skeletal system. If this happens, the prognosis drops dramatically, so much of the focus during treatment is ridding the prostate of the cancer, thus not allowing it to spread.

There aren’t many symptoms to prostate cancer in most cases. Because the prostate does not contain any nerve endings and typically doesn’t interact with any system other than the reproductive system, it is usually very late in the progression before any symptoms appear. Because of this, early detection has always been the focus of treatment of the disease. If there are symptoms, they include urination at night, frequent urination, or painful urination. This only occurs in about two thirds of patients, according to a study in 1998.

The risk factors of prostate cancer aren’t completely known. It appears that age is the primary risk factor, then followed by family history and obesity. There isn’t a single gene that has been linked to the development of the cancer yet, but early results are pointing to mutations of the BRCA 1, BRCA 2, and the HPC1 gene.

Early detection and screening is more controversial with prostate cancer than it is with others. Since there isn’t a direct correlation between early detection and increased mortality rate, any sort of false positives are viewed as unnecessary treatment. The counter argument against early detection is that the benefits don’t outweigh the numerous false positives and therefore unnecessary, and hazardous, treatment.

If the cancer is detected through biopsy, which is the only guaranteed method of a true diagnosis, it is classified between T1 – T4. T1 and T2 are relatively low risk cancers that are still contained within the prostate, and T3 and T4 have both spread either locally or metastasis, respectively. In T1 and T2 cases, it is very rare for a physician to even recommend a PET or CT scan to check for the spread of the cancer, as the risk is extremely low.

There are four treatments that are widely recognised for prostate cancer – radiation therapy, surgery, pharmaceutical, and active monitoring. Each one has benefits and drawbacks, and should be discussed closely with a focus on the long and short term side effects of all.

If you would like legal advice regarding any delay in diagnosis of your prostate cancer or if you have concerns regarding the standard of treatment that was provided to you, contact our legal team. Our prostate cancer lawyers provide representation on a No Win No Fee basis in most cases.

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