A cancer diagnosis can force you into the harsh reality of surgery, chemotherapy, and illness as you fight to overcome the disease. The only thing that may be worse is if your doctor fails to recognize the symptoms soon enough or makes mistakes leading to a delay in treatment.

When it comes to cancer and medical malpractice cases, you question how it happens and what you can do about it. If you’re unsure where to turn for help, speak with a West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer to learn what constitutes negligence and how to seek justice for your losses.

What is medical malpractice?

Cancer can be devastating, but identifying it early allows patients to have a better chance of surviving with the lowest costs. Even a few months’ delay can mean the difference between life and death. So, when a doctor fails to diagnose cancer or misdiagnoses it as something else, the consequences can be terrible.

In general, medical malpractice is defined as negligent actions that result in patient illness or injury that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. The two most common situations are misdiagnosis and a failure to diagnose.

Failure to diagnose

Cancer is a highly studied disease, meaning the medical community is always updated on symptoms, treatments, and survival rates. Physicians are expected to consider the possibility of cancer every time they examine a patient, applying a reasonable standard of care. The standard of care is different for individuals of different ages, races, genders, and overall health, so doctors must maintain a clinical suspicion when something is out of place.

However, many factors can contribute to a failure to diagnose, including unconscious biases, inexperience, lack of training, and overwork. None of these causes is an excuse when it comes to a healthcare provider failing to act in time to diagnose your cancer.


Cancer can be mistaken for other diseases, resulting in a misdiagnosis and treatment that doesn’t address the actual illness. In other situations, the doctor may think the patient has cancer when they do not. Diagnostic tests can be faulty or misread, leading to situations such as the following.

False positive cancer diagnosis

A false positive occurs when a patient is told they have cancer when they do not. They may undergo unnecessary treatment that can be harmful, such as chemotherapy or surgery. Some tests are known to have a higher chance of false positive readings. In other cases, the physician may misread or misinterpret test results, leading to a false positive.

False negative cancer diagnosis

A false negative diagnosis happens when a patient has cancer, but it is not detected or identified. Again, some tests carry a greater chance of giving false negatives and should be backed up with additional scans. Misreading results, sampling errors during a biopsy, or failing to spot unusual tumor characteristics also lead to false negative results.


Misclassification results when a cancer is identified, but the doctor makes a mistake in classifying it correctly. For example, diagnosing Stage III cancer as Stage I could mean the patient doesn’t receive an appropriately aggressive treatment plan. Similarly, if a physician fails to correctly identify the type of cancer due to its location in the body, it may be a misclassification and, therefore, medical malpractice.

What you can do about medical malpractice and a cancer diagnosis

A false negative or misclassification could mean you receive the wrong treatment or too little. False positives throw you into a panic over cancer that isn’t there. No matter how your healthcare providers have been negligent, you are entitled to seek compensation for your injuries, illness, and emotional distress.

You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the individual doctor, the institution they work for, or both. With a failure to diagnose cancer, a medical malpractice suit could even become a wrongful death case. Your medical malpractice attorney in West Palm Beach, FL can examine your case and help you calculate the full value of your damages.

They will also identify who is liable in your medical malpractice case and hold them accountable. Even if you have a false positive diagnosis, your pain and suffering deserve financial relief.

Learn more from Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath

If you or a loved one has suffered a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose cancer, our medical malpractice lawyers are ready to listen to your story during a free consultation. It can be challenging to prove medical malpractice successfully, and you should not face this difficult task alone.

Learn more from our compassionate, experienced, and dedicated team of attorneys that serves all of Florida. We are committed to your full recovery when you are a victim of someone else’s negligence. Contact us by calling (561) 655-1990 or through our online form to schedule a meeting today.