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Actresses’ Cancer Misdiagnosis Stories Highlight Importance of Second Opinions

Posted on May 6, 2015 by Kelly Wolford
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The experiences recently shared in public by two actresses – Suzanne Somers and Rita Wilson – underscore why it is so important for people to get a second opinion about a cancer diagnosis. Too often, cancer is misdiagnosed, carrying tragic consequences for patients and their families.

One actress, Suzanne Somers, experienced a false-positive diagnosis.

As Entertainment Tonight reports, doctors recently told Somers that her cancer had returned. Somers told the TV show that doctors made the diagnosis after detecting through CT scans what appeared to be tumors in her lungs, chest and liver.

Somers spent six days in the hospital before learning that the diagnosis was wrong. Instead, she learned, the masses were the results of inhaling black mold that was in a house she had been renting.

The other actress, Rita Wilson, experienced a false-negative diagnosis.

As USA Today reports, Wilson underwent two biopsies. She was “relieved” to be told by doctors that she did not have breast cancer. However, at the urging of a friend, she got a second opinion from a doctor who diagnosed her with having invasive lobular carcinoma.

After a third doctor confirmed the diagnosis, Wilson underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

“I share this to educate others that a second opinion is critical to your health,” Wilson said. “You have nothing to lose if both opinions match up for the good, and everything to gain if something that was missed is found, which does happen. Early diagnosis is a key.”

At Powers & Santola, LLP, we completely agree. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 589,430 people will die of cancer in the U.S. in 2015. The stakes are too high to forgo seeking a second opinion about your condition.

What Can You Do About A Cancer Misdiagnosis?

If you learn that your cancer has been misdiagnosed – whether it is a false-positive or false-negative – you should seek a legal opinion as well. At Powers & Santola, LLP, we offer free consultations for the specific purpose of encouraging patients to speak with a lawyer and learn more about their legal rights.

For instance, if your case involves a delayed diagnosis of cancer, an attorney will analyze issues such as:

  • The symptoms you presented to your doctor
  • The testing that was performed
  • When your cancer was actually detected
  • What would have been your prognosis if your cancer had been timely diagnosed.

The review of a delayed cancer diagnosis case involves examining not only medical records but also consulting with medical experts. The purpose is to determine whether a medical professional’s negligence led to the diagnostic error.

In many states, including New York, a patient whose chance for a better outcome has been diminished by a delayed cancer diagnosis may be able to seek damages based on the loss of opportunity to properly treat the disease.

If you would like to learn more, please contact Powers & Santola, LLP, today. Simply call or connect with us online.