November is National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Not only is this month a great time to learn about the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer and to raise awareness, but it is also the time to Wage Hope and feel empowered if you or someone you love is suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Because pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest diseases, knowing as much as you can about it is critical to survival. It is also important to receive a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible if symptoms are noticed.
If you receive a delayed pancreatic cancer diagnosis, or if it is incorrectly diagnosed as something else, the consequences can be tragic. If this has happened to you, you need to talk with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you to learn your rights and pursue just compensation.
Get the Facts about Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is very fatal. In fact, pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths every year. It is the only major cancer in the United States with a five-year survival rate of only seven percent.
The reach of pancreatic cancer is vast as well. Every day, 134 new Americans are diagnosed with the disease, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Sadly, an estimated 111 of those patients will likely lose their lives to pancreatic cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Two types of pancreatic cancer can be diagnosed: Exocrine and endocrine. The signs and symptoms for each of these two types are very different, according to the ACS. Understanding the differences of each is important when it comes to knowing whether you have received a correct diagnosis and proper treatment.
The following are some of the signs of exocrine pancreatic cancer:
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin, whites of eyes)
- Dark-colored urine
- Light-colored stools
- Itchy skin
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Digestive upset
- Blood clots
- Enlarged gallbladder
- Onset of diabetes.
In contrast, endocrine pancreatic cancer is typically characterized by the formation of different types of tumors. These tumors release certain hormones into the bloodstream, which can then lead to different symptoms.
Common types of tumors associated with endocrine pancreatic cancer and their symptoms include:
- Gastrinomas – Stomach ulcers, pain, nausea, and decreased appetite
- Glucagonomas – Weight loss, diarrhea and a skin rash
- Insulinomas – Sweating, confusion, increased heartbeat and weakness
- Somatostatinomas – Nausea, jaundice and belly pain
- VIPomas – Digestive issues such as diarrhea
- PPomas – Belly pain, diarrhea and an enlarged liver
- Carcinoid tumors – Flushing of the skin, wheezing, digestive problems and increased heartbeat
- Non-functioning neuroendocrine tumors – Jaundice, weight loss and pain in the stomach.
In addition to the symptoms that are caused as a direct formation of tumors, a patient suffering from endocrine pancreatic cancer will usually experience other symptoms that are associated with the cancer’s spread. This may include many of the same symptoms listed above such as jaundice, pain in the bones and weakness.
For those who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or have questions about signs, symptoms, treatment options and more, the ACS provides a multitude of helpful resources.
Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is not picky in who it chooses as its victim. It can affect men and women of all ages and races. Those who are most at risk include:
- Tobacco users
- Overweight or obese individuals
- Those who have been exposed to certain chemicals in the workplace
- Individuals ages 45 and older
- Diabetic patients
- Those with a family history of pancreatic cancer
- Individuals with certain stomach problems
- People with with cirrhosis of the liver.
Treatment Options for Pancreatic Cancer
If you have received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer from a healthcare professional, beginning treatment immediately may be essential for saving your life. The treatment option that is right for you will depend on the type or stage of your pancreatic cancer, your family and personal medical history and your personal preferences.
Multiple advanced treatment options can be prescribed for pancreatic cancer such as those provided by Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
These treatment types include, but are not limited to:
- Radiation therapy
- Interventional radiology
- Targeted therapy.
When Pancreatic Cancer is Misdiagnosed or Undiagnosed
Because of the deadly nature of pancreatic cancer, it is extremely important that, if you notice any of the signs or symptoms of pancreatic cancer as mentioned above, you seek medical care immediately.
Also, make sure you share your family’s medical history with your physician or healthcare provider, which is one of the risk factors for developing this deadly disease.
However, even when you take action immediately, a healthcare provider may not always take the steps necessary to make a proper and timely diagnosis.
For example, a healthcare provider may fail to order certain lab tests, interpret lab tests incorrectly or miss an obvious abnormality. In some cases, a doctor may fail to refer you to a specialist.
When any of the above occurs, and your pancreatic cancer spreads as a direct result of delayed treatment, you may have grounds for taking legal action. A pancreatic cancer misdiagnosis or delayed pancreatic cancer diagnosis in may warrant a lawsuit against the doctor or healthcare facility.
A Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Attorney Can Help You
If you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and if your pancreatic cancer has spread rapidly due to a suspected delay or error in your diagnosis, the experienced Albany medical malpractice attorneys at Powers & Santola, LLP, can meet with you to discuss your case.
We have been helping medical malpractice victims and their families since 1987. We know what it takes to carefully investigate and litigate delayed cancer diagnosis claims in New York. To learn more about our services and what taking legal action could mean for you, contact us for a free consultation.