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How Is Cancer Diagnosed?

Doctor holding a patient's handCancer is a serious and common medical condition. In 2018, more than 1.7 million Americans were diagnosed with some form of cancer. More than 600,000 died.

Even though cancer is common, misdiagnosis still happens quite frequently. Because cancer symptoms are often vague, they are misdiagnosed as a different disease. This causes a person to lose out on valuable treatment that could allow them to live longer and even put the cancer in remission.

But how exactly is cancer diagnosed? What steps do doctors take to show that a patient does in fact have cancer? Here are some ways in which cancer is diagnosed.


If a person is at risk for developing a certain type of cancer through factors such as age, family history or lifestyle, then the doctor may perform screening tests. Screening tests are used to determine if a person may develop cancer, but they may or may not have symptoms at the time.

If a person has symptoms, a doctor may order various tests such as X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans. The tests performed are based on the symptoms. For example, a person with chronic headaches may have a CT scan done. These tests can look for abnormal masses and determine their size and location. However, they cannot tell if the mass is in fact cancerous.

To confirm whether or not a patient has cancer, the doctor will perform a biopsy. They will use surgery or a needle to remove a portion of the tumor and examine the cells under a microscope.


If cancer is diagnosed, the next step is to stage it. Staging allows doctors to determine how far the cancer has spread. This determines the types of treatment that can be used. Stage I cancers have not spread, while Stage IV cancers have spread throughout the body and are usually terminal at this point.

Once a stage of cancer is determined, the doctor can determine the best course of action. If the cancer has not spread, the tumor can often be surgically removed with great success. Chemotherapy is also an option. This treatment uses powerful drugs to delay cancer growth. Radiation is another common form of treatment. This uses powerful X-rays and particles to destroy cancer cells. Radiation can shrink tumors without harming healthy tissue next to the cancerous mass. Sometimes these treatments offer success in the short term, but many cancer patients eventually die from the disease.

Harvey L. Walner & Associates, LTD has been winning cases like these for over 50 years!

Test are not always accurate, and sometimes cancer is misdiagnosed as a less serious disease. As a result, a person may not get the treatment they need to fight the cancer. This can cause their condition to worsen and they eventually die.

If you or a loved one is suffering from cancer that has not been accurately diagnosed, the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Harvey L. Walner & Associates, LTD can help. We can hold the doctors and other parties liable for your cancer misdiagnosis. You may be eligible for various forms of damages. To schedule a free consultation, fill out the online request form or call (312) 313-2888.



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