Bone Cancer - Medical Malpractice Lawyer

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Thousands of Canadian citizens are diagnosed with bone cancer every year however only a minority are diagnosed early enough to affect a cure. The key to survival is early diagnosis and treatment which is often delayed due to misdiagnosis or misinterpreted test results. Bone cancer misdiagnosis is extremely common and failure by a healthcare practitioner that amounts to negligence is a matter of medical malpractice and entitles the victim to claim financial recompense for pain and suffering or the loss of opportunity for a cure. Our specialist medical malpractice lawyers deal with bone cancer clinical negligence cases against doctors, nurses, technicians and other healthcare providers working in medical practices, clinics, hospitals and all other places where health care is dispensed. If you would like advice about bone cancer misdiagnosis just contact our offices and a specialist medical malpractice lawyer with call to discuss your potential compensation claim without charge and without further obligation. Our bone cancer medical malpractice lawyers will give you their opinion on the liability of the negligent healthcare provider and will estimate the amount of the likely award of damages there and then.

Bone Cancer Misdiagnosis Facts

Bone cancer is generally represented as cancer starting in the cells that make bone although some people also call it “bone cancer” if the cancer originated elsewhere in the body but has metastasized to bone. For the purposes of the following article, we will refer specifically to cancer originating in the bone.

The average age at diagnosis of bone cancer is around 38 years old. Even so, almost 30 percent are diagnosed under age 20 and only 3 percent are diagnosed at greater than 85 years of age. The median age of death for those suffering from bone cancer is around 59 years of age. Those under age twenty have a survival rate that is around 65 percent after five years. All of this is translated into fewer than 0.5 individuals per 100,000 cases, making it a rare form of cancer. It is much more common to have metastatic cancer to bone. Overall, the survival rate for bone cancer is between 65 and 72 percent, varying according to age and ethnicity.

As it turns out, 41 percent of all bone cancer patients have their cancer diagnosed when the cancer is localized to bone. Thirty six percent are diagnosed when the cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes or just around the bone. Fifteen percent of all cases are diagnosed when the disease is metastatic. The five year rate of survival is 85 percent for localized disease, 69 percent for regional disease and 31 percent for distant or metastatic disease.

Bone cancer symptoms almost always include pain in the bone. If the bone is close to the surface, it is sometimes seen as a painful lump on the bone. It is caused by previous radiation to the bone, trauma to the bone, inherited mutations in the genes and idiopathic causes. Most of the cases, the cause is idiopathic (unknown). Bone cancer is called an osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, fibrosarcoma or chondrosarcoma and can be picked up on a bone scan. A bone scan looks at the activity of metabolism in the bone when radioactive dye is injected into the system. Remember that this can also show up metastases, especially from the breast, lung, kidney, and thyroid and prostate glands. A plain x-ray of the bone can also show a suspicion of a bone cancer although a biopsy is the only way to tell for sure. Bone biopsies can be done using a needle biopsy or an open biopsy of the bone.

Other symptoms of bone cancer include a fracture of the bone with no apparent injury. Signs include an elevated alkaline phosphatase level in the bloodstream. Also elevated can be the blood calcium or blood phosphorus levels and an elevated level of the parathyroid hormone. The bone pain is usually worse at night but can contribute to a reduction in physical activity. There can be swelling of a limb distal to the site of the bone cancer or localized swelling near the bone itself.

Cancerous tumors of the bone respond to several types of treatment. Radiation can be a first line treatment in order to relieve bone pain or to prevent a bony fracture. If surgery is necessary to remove the bone, it often means a complete amputation of an extremity if an extremity bone is involved. It is otherwise very difficult to remove just the tumor without have a large space where bone should connect to bone. Amputation also increases the survival rate as metastatic disease is minimized when the entire limb is removed.

Besides surgery and radiation, there is chemotherapy available for bone cancer. Because bone cancer is so uncommon, it should be treated at a center that commonly treats bone cancer patients.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here