When Misdiagnosed Liver Cancer Constitutes Medical Malpractice


Misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosis of liver cancer can have serious or even fatal consequences for patients. Your liver is an important organ that supports digestion and helps the body process toxins and proteins. If the liver is damaged or has diminished function, there are limited treatment options available. The timely diagnosis and treatment of liver cancer is essential to ensuring both survival and quality of life.

Liver cancer statistics and misdiagnosis

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 35,000 Americans will be diagnosed with liver cancer this year and more than 700,000 people worldwide. When liver cancer is the disease that a patient is facing, immediate diagnosis and providing treatment can be the key factor in survival. Liver is a cancer that’s known to spread or metastasize quickly. Metastasizes make the condition increasingly difficult to treat and to cure.

Yet patients with liver cancer are often diagnosed with a range of other issues. In some cases, it’s mistaken for other conditions of the liver such as cirrhosis, fatty liver, abscesses, Mosse syndrome, and alveolar hydatiddisease. Still in other cases, it’s mistaken for issues that affect the gallbladder, pancreas, or abdomen. Misdiagnoses can lead to lost time in treating the actual problem.

Understanding and treating liver cancer

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of liver cancer, which typically originates as a complication of either hepatitis or cirrhosis. Cholangiocarcinoma originates as a cancer of the bile ducts and spreads within the liver. These are the two most common forms of liver cancer. If cancer is found inside the liver, it may be a metastases from another location in the body. This is typically called secondary liver cancer and may originate from the lungs, breasts, GI tract, or other regions of the body. There are also several types of rare cancer that can affect the liver, and be even more difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms of liver cancer

Unfortunately, the general symptoms of liver cancer are easy to mistake for a wide range of other conditions. Common symptoms include pain or masses in the abdomen, back pain, weight loss, fever, jaundice, vomiting, or itching. If these symptoms present, it’s important that clinicians use prudent judgment and administer the right tests early on to make an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment of liver cancer

Blood tests and imaging are both used to diagnose liver cancer. Blood tests measure proteins and enzymes of normal liver functioning, such as bilirubin levels. In addition, imaging may be done of the liver and abdomen via ultrasound, CT Scan, or MRI. Liver biopsies and endoscopes may also be used to better understand what’s happening. There are a number of options for treatment, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and even liver transplant. Based on information gathered during the diagnostics, a doctor will be able to recommend a course of treatment.

However, if you or a loved one experienced a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis for liver cancer that impacted treatment or patient outcomes, you may have the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact Rasmussen & Miner today to discuss your situation, learn more about liver cancer medical malpractice, and arrange for a personalized consultation.