Back in 2005, a 22-year-old Rhode Island college student was working out when she discovered an unusual golf ball-sized lump near her groin. At first, she thought it might have been a sports injury. But, when the lump hadn't disappeared a month later, she became worried and went to the doctor.
It turned out the lump was cancer - stage III melanoma that had spread to her lymph nodes.
Unfortunately, this young woman died three years later. But, she might not have, had her doctors not made a skin cancer misdiagnosis years earlier.
Cancer Could Have Been Detected Years Earlier
Like many in her generation, the young woman had been fond of getting a suntan in order to improve her appearance. In the summertime, she worked as a lifeguard, spending more than 40 hours a week outdoors. In the offseason, she frequented local tanning salons.
She knew that tanning might damage her skin in the long run, but she didn't know that it could lead to deadly skin cancer. Still, when she noticed an unusual mole on her leg, she went to the doctor to have it tested and removed. The lab reported the mole was benign.
That was back in high school. When the young woman was diagnosed with cancer -just weeks after graduating from college - her surgeon went back to take another look at that mole. It turned out that the lab had made a deadly error; the mole was actually early-stage melanoma.
If that cancer misdiagnosis hadn't been made, there is a good chance that the young woman would have survived. Instead, by the time her cancer was detected, it had metastasized into her lymph nodes, becoming almost certainly incurable. Eventually, the cancer formed lesions on her brain and she began wasting away.
The cancer killed her in 2008. She was 26 years old.
This young women's tragic death occurred because of an oversight at a testing lab. Unfortunately, failure to diagnose cancer is far too common. While nothing can turn the clock back, victims of cancer misdiagnosis do have a right to hold doctors accountable for their errors. This right also extends to the families of cancer victims who have died as a result of misdiagnosis.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a doctor's failure to diagnose cancer, a Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyer can help you understand your rights.