Brain Tumor Misdiagnosis

Abnormal cell growth causes brain tumors to develop. Many tumors start in the brain, but not always. It is possible for the tumor to start in another part of the body and spread to the brain.

Either way, the tumor can be benign or malignant, both of which occur with their sets of symptoms and signs. A benign tumor is one that does not spread to other parts of the brain, while a malignant tumor is one that can and will spread to other parts of the brain and into the spinal cord. Each year there are approximately 23,000 new brain tumor cases diagnosed in the United States. Of these new cases, about 15,000 people will lose their battle with cancer.

What You Should Know about Brain Tumors

To obtain accurate tumor diagnoses, doctors will perform some procedures. Even still, many symptoms are indicative of tumor presence. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Numbness in Body Extremities
  • Muscle Jerking/ Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Memory Loss
  • Vision, Hearing & Speech Changes
  • Nausea/ Vomiting
  • Motor Skills Trouble
  • Recurrent Headaches

Diagnosis of a tumor is made via a CT scan, a neurological examination, biopsy or spinal tap. Some doctors use several different procedures to make a diagnosis.

During brain tumor testing, a tumor grade will be given based upon cell formations when seen under a microscope.

Tumor grades:

  • Grade I: These tumors are slow to grow, but tissues are benign.
  • Grade II: Malignant cells are found in the brain
  • Grade III: These tumors grow rapidly and look far different from normal cells.
  • Grade IV: These malignant cells grow rapidly and appear dark in color.

Several different types of brain tumors exist. The most common brain tumors found in adults include astrocytoma, meningioma, and oligodendroglioma. The most common types of brain tumors in children include brain stem glioma, medulloblastoma, and ependymoma.

What Are Risk Factors Related to Tumors in the Brain?

Researchers have pointed out the following as risk factors for brain tumors:

  1. Ionizing Radiation: Studies have proven that ionizing radiation, such as that from high dose x-rays (from radiation therapy aimed at the head) and other sources can result in cell damage leading to a brain tumor. Individuals who have been exposed to this ionizing radiation could have a higher risk of developing a brain tumor, such as glioma or meningioma.
  2. Family History: This cause of brain tumors is very rare, but it does happen. There are some families who have several members who suffer from a brain tumor.

Additionally, researchers have begun to study whether cell phone usage, head injuries or exposure to magnetic fields or specific chemicals are also risk factors.

Though there are some individuals with these factors, there have not been consistent links between these and development of a tumor- more research is necessary.

What Are the Symptoms of Tumors in the Brain?

The symptoms of tumors in the brain are dependent upon the size of the tumor, the type of tumor, and even the location of the tumor. Certain symptoms could be caused by a tumor pressing on a nerve or damaging a specific area of the brain. Additionally, symptoms could be a result of the tumor blocking the fluid flowing through and around the brain or swelling of the brain due to fluid buildup.

Following are some of the most common symptoms of tumors in the brain:

  1. Headaches that are typically worse in the mornings
  2. Vomiting/nausea
  3. Changes in patterns of speech, or in hearing/vision
  4. Difficulty walking or balancing
  5. Changes in ability to concentrate or mood/personality
  6. Difficulty with memory
  7. Muscle twitching/jerking- even to the point of convulsions/seizures
  8. Tingling/numbness in the legs/arms

However, in most cases, many of these symptoms are not due to a brain tumor at all. There are other health problems that could cause these. Of course, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should discuss it with your physician so that he or she can diagnose your specific health problem and get proper treatment.

Can Tumors Be Misdiagnosed?

Many times, due to an individual experiencing the above symptoms, a tumor in the brain can be misdiagnosed. In most cases, when an individual is experiencing these symptoms, the physician will order tests such as CT scan, MRI, and EEG. Additionally, more definitive tests are available, such as a myelogram, PET scan, X-ray of the skull, spinal tap, or angiogram. If a physician misinterprets the results of these tests or fails to order them altogether, medical malpractice enters in.

If you believe that you have a medical malpractice suit because your physician didn’t order these tests or he order the tests but read the results wrong, there are certain steps you must take. You will want to start by getting a second opinion from another physician.

Then, you’ll write a letter to the physician you are claiming malpractice against. This will give the physician the opportunity to settle. If he decides not to settle, you will then request a petition from the court clerk. Make sure that you fill out the petition entirely, including all pertinent information. Finally, you will file the petition with the court clerk and find out the process for having the physician served with the lawsuit papers.

Brain Tumors & Medical Malpractice

The exact cause of a brain tumor is unknown, but the belief is that some factors can cause them to develop. This includes a family history of brain cancer and radiation exposure. It is also believed that head injuries can cause tumors to develop, although there is not enough scientific evidence yet available to back those claims. Other potential causes of brain tumors include prolonged cell phone use and aspartame consumption, but again there is no scientific evidence available to support this information.

There is another cause of the tumors, however, and that is medical malpractice from those you entrusted to give you great medical care. Doctors, nurses, surgeons and even specialists are guilty of malpractice if the proper diagnosis of the condition is not made on a timely basis, when test results are misread, during botched surgeries and in many other similar situations. If it was preventable, it is medical malpractice.

If you or a loved one suspects that your injuries are the result of negligence on the behalf of a doctor, surgeon or other medical professional, it is a good idea to talk to a medical malpractice lawyer. You might have a medical malpractice lawsuit that could entitle you to compensation for the negligence caused by the medical staff. Your lawsuit could result in a cash award covering medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.

In addition to finding justice for yourself or your loved one, filing a lawsuit can help prevent future tragedies from occurring. Most medical malpractice lawyers will speak to prospective clients at no charge through an initial consultation. Take advantage of this free session to learn if your case qualifies as well as the next steps to take to get the justice that you (or your loved one) deserve.