Women in the early stages of cervical cancer often present no symptoms and do not experience any adverse health affects. Most often, women are unaware of their illness until the cervical cancer has reached advanced stages and has spread to other organs in their body such as the liver, lungs, bladder, and intestines. Cervical cancer develops very slowly and usually develops from a condition known as dysplasia. Dysplasia occurs when abnormal cells appear on the surface of the cervix. Overtime, these abnormal cells experience changes and develop into cervical cancer. Pap smears can detect the presence of dysplasia on the cervix and can be treated. With treatment, the risk of developing cervical cancer is decreased dramatically.
However, when dysplasia is not detected and treated, cervical cancer may result. For this reason, it is imperative that doctors correctly interpret a woman’s Pap smear test results. When dysplasia is present and doctors fail to diagnose and treat the condition, the woman is in danger of developing cervical cancer in the future. When physicians fail to correctly evaluate, diagnose, and treat dysplasia and cervical cancer develops as a consequence, the woman may have legal grounds to file a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice occurs when health care providers do not adhere to the medical community’s accepted standards of care when diagnosing or treating a patient and as a result the patient is injured or dies. Medical malpractice typically occurs due to the health care providers harmful, negligent acts or failure to act.
Because cervical cancer develops from a treatable, pre–cancerous condition, it is essential that doctors correctly interpret Pap smears in order to properly and timely treat dysplasia. If Pap smears produce abnormal results for which further testing is deemed necessary, tests such as endocervical curettage (ECC) and cone biopsy may be performed. These tests will help doctors detect any pre–cancerous conditions that may exist and help doctors more effectively treat these conditions. Left untreated cervical cancer can develop and spread to other vital organs, and this may be the consequences of a doctors failure to properly interpret tests and accurately diagnose a woman’s condition. In cases such as these, health care providers may have committed medical malpractice. Women that believe their health care provider acted carelessly with their health and are suffering from cervical cancer as a result may want to consider contacting a medical malpractice attorney for a consultation and case review.