It should not be news to anyone, that some kinds of cancer can be prevented…. and others, when caught early enough, can be treated.

The American Cancer Society prints yearly statistics on recommended tests and preventative measures that all Americans should observe to reduce their chances of getting cancer.

But what happens if you go and get the tests, but the doctor(s) don’t pick up on the cancer?

What happens if you go to your primary care physician for months and he or she fails to order the proper tests?

What if you miss the opportunity to fight your cancer head on because it is diagnosed too late?

We often receive calls from families concerned that a physician failed to diagnose their loved one’s cancer – and sometimes, that failure to diagnose becomes a lawsuit.

Other times however, a doctor’s failure to diagnose does not rise to the level of Medical Malpractice under Virginia law.

How could that be, you may wonder? A doctor fails to diagnose cancer and you can’t file a lawsuit?
The answer is complicated.

  • If a doctor has failed to diagnose cancer; and
  • The physician should have diagnosed it (meaning – signs and symptoms or tests revealed cancer); and
  • The delay in diagnosis caused the cancer to advance so far it could not be treated

THEN and only then

You may have a lawsuit.

Failure to diagnose cancer for 1 month, 2 months – may not be a case.

Failure to diagnose cancer for a year, giving the cancer time to grow from treatable form to an invasive cancer – that’s a different story.

My Mother is a cancer survivor, twice. and the second time her oncologist didn’t believe the growth was cancer so he did nothing for few months. He was wrong, but thankfully, his failure to diagnose it did not cause her any additional harm. She was able to treat the cancer.

If you are unsure whether you or your loved one has a potential claim, call our office today. We are happy to walk you through this process.

About the author

Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at

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