Imagine you are a male and you see your doctor for your yearly checkup. Imagine the doctor orders blood tests, including a PSA test for the early detection of prostate cancer. This is how to check whether a male without any symptoms of prostate cancer may actually have it. Imagine the tests came back outside the normal range
Yet, there continues to be debate amid some doctors over how to test asymptomatic male patients for prostate cancer or even if screening is even appropriate. These physicians argue that screening has little, if any, value. One factor, nevertheless, continues to be constant. If of a screening test is abnormal the man should be informed about the results and either be referred to a specialist or be told about the option for diagnostic testing, for example a biopsy. Once more, though, some doctors also believe that, at least under certain instances, a man diagnosed with prostate cancer does not have to undergo treatment right away and merely has to carefully monitor the cancer.
If the doctor does not give the patient the option to undergo screening or fails to tell the patient about the abnormal test results the patient’s prostate cancer may spread and metastasize without the man even knowing he may have cancer. Unfortunately, if a doctor noted that the patient’s prostate was enlarged or there was a nodule on the gland and the PSA test results indicated high levels of the antigen and the doctor failed to notify the man about the abnormal results, the individual would probably believe that meant the results were all normal.
The longer the delay in finally carrying out tests that will lead to a diagnosis of the cancer the larger the likelihood that by the point it is eventually diagnosed the cancer will have reached an advanced stage. This will greatly reduce treatment options, will wipe out the chance of a cure, and will reduce the patient’s life. In one type of lawsuit, for example, where the man is ultimately diagnosed yet by that time the cancer has spread and a cure was no longer plausible.
These kinds of tests can have false positives so certain patients with abnormal screening results actually do not have cancer. Yet performing screening tests for cancer is meaningless if there is no follow up as it gives the patient an incorrect sense of security believing he has no cancer as the doctor tested him but said nothing to him that the tests demonstrated he might have cancer. Doctors normally agree that there is a requirement for follow up when the results of screening tests come back as abnormal.
That is in the end the rational behind these tests. They are intended to find the cancer before the patient develops symptoms and the cancer advances. If the results of these tests are dismissed they are useless. Ignoring them might amount to medical malpractice and a patient whose doctor did that and is subsequently found to have advanced prostate cancer might be able to sue that doctor for malpractice. There are many factors that must be considered in evaluation if a patient may have a claim against a doctor and anyone who thinks they might be a victim of medical malpractice ought to contact a lawyer right away. The above is for basic educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. It is not legal advice.