Copyright (c) 2011 Julie Glynn
As with all types of cancer, the sooner bladder cancer is diagnosed the better. If there is a delay, a patient’s chance of recovery could be put at risk. But what happens if this delay was caused by the actions, or inaction, of medical professionals? This article takes a closer look at diagnosing bladder cancer, and discusses what you should do if you have been the victim of medical negligence.
Symptoms of Bladder Cancer.
The first step to diagnosing bladder cancer is to recognise the signs and symptoms of the disease. These include:-
* Blood in the urine;
* Changes in bladder habits (such as an increased frequency and urgency of urination, difficulty voiding and a painful sensation when voiding).
If the cancer is relatively advanced, the following symptoms may also be present:-
* Pelvic pain;
* Bone pain;
* Swelling of the legs;
* Unexplained weight loss.
However, these symptoms can easily be mistaken for other, less serious conditions. In particular, the primary symptoms of bladder cancer (such as blood in the urine and changes in bladder habits) may be diagnosed as a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, an overactive bladder or an enlarged prostate.
That is why if symptoms persist, it is essential a patient is sent for further tests. This will allow a diagnosis of bladder cancer to be firmly excluded. On the other hand if cancer is present, treatment can begin as soon as possible – something which will greatly improve a patient’s chances of recovery.
Diagnostic Tests for Bladder Cancer.
When you present to your GP with the aforementioned symptoms of bladder cancer, it is normal procedure to take a urine sample to ensure you are not suffering from infection. It is also standard practice to perform a rectal and (if you are woman) vaginal examination, as it is sometimes possible to detect a tumour in this way.
If there are any abnormalities found, or if symptoms continue, your GP may then organise an ultrasound scan. If a diagnosis still cannot be confirmed, you should be referred you to a Consultant Urologist, a doctor who specialises in disease of the urinary system and male reproductive system. Female patients may instead be referred to a Consultant Urogynaecologist.
After an examination, a Urologist should use their professional opinion to arrange further diagnostic tests. Ordinarily this will involved a cystoscopy, as it is widely considered the best way to confirm or exclude the presence of bladder cancer. A cystoscopy can be performed under local anaesthetic, and involves a small tube with a camera attached to the end being inserted through the urethra into the bladder. The images relayed back to a screen will show any irregularities. If there is indeed an abnormality present, a biopsy will be taken and sent to the lab for further testing.
Delayed Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer – Is This Medical Negligence?
If there has been a delay on the part of medical professionals to diagnose bladder cancer, there could well be an incidence of medical negligence. Most commonly, this will be the result of:-
* A GPs failure to refer to a patient to a specialist;
* Failure by either GP or specialist to arrange the appropriate diagnostic tests;
* Failure to properly interpret test results;
* Failure to make the correct diagnosis in a timely fashion.
If this has happened to you, it is important you speak to a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible, as you could be entitled to make a claim. If so, you may be awarded compensation for the pain and suffering a delay in diagnosis has caused you and your loved ones.