Brain cancer is caused by cancerous cells that form in the brain or cancerous cells that migrate to the brain from other parts of the body (metastasis). There are over 130 types of brain tumors, and symptoms of these tumors will vary based on the type of cancer and the patient's reaction to the cancer. Nevertheless, medical professionals should know the general signs and symptoms of brain cancer, and should follow recognized procedures to evaluate and diagnose brain cancer. Failure to diagnose or delaying the diagnosis of brain cancer can result in permanent disability and other serious consequences for the patient.
Maryland Brain Cancer Malpractice Lawyers
The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian have helped families across Maryland in a variety of medical malpractice cases. If medical professionals are negligent, they can be held accountable for harm suffered by the patient as a result. Contact Gilman & Bedigian today to learn more about your options.
Brain Cancer Statistics
Brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.
According to the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States and the American Brain Tumor Association:
- In 2010, an estimated 138,054 people in the US were living with a diagnosis of malignant, or cancerous, brain and central nervous system tumors
- An estimated 23,180 new cases of malignant brain tumors are expected to be diagnosed in 2015
- An estimated 13,770 deaths in 2015 will be attributable to malignant brain tumors
- Brain cancer rates are higher in females than in males
- The average 5-year survival rate, meaning the patient is still alive 5 years after diagnosis, is 33.3%
- The most common cancers that spread to the brain are lung, breast, skin, and colon
- Glioblastoma multiform is the most common malignant brain tumor and is highly dangerous due to its very rapid reproduction of cancerous cells
Not all brain tumors are cancerous. Malignant, or cancerous, tumors will grow quicker and may spread to other parts of the body. Malignant brain tumors normally spread to other parts of the brain or to the spinal cord. Benign tumors grow slowler and will not spread, but they still grow and press on adjacent brain tissue causing harm.
Your doctor should be able to tell the difference between a malignant and a benign tumor. Benign tumors have more clearly defined borders and are less rooted in surrounding tissue.
Symptoms of a brain tumor include:
- Blurred vision or a change in vision
- Memory problems
- Changes in speech and hearing
- Difficulty with motor skills and balance problems
- Changes in personality
- Loss of sensation in arms or legs
- Persistent drowsiness
The exact symptoms of brain cancer will depend on the type and location of the tumor.
Diagnosing Brain Cancer
If a patient shows any of the symptoms for brain cancer, the doctor should perform or order the proper diagnostic tests. These include:
- Neurological exam, including the full medical and family history of the patient
- CT scans, or 3-D imaging of the brain to detect tumor growth
- fMRI or MRI scans to determine how brain function is affected and locate the tumor
- Biopsy, or tissue analysis, to examine the actual tumor
Doctors, radiologists, oncologists, and many other medical professionals are involved in the diagnostic process. Each must meet the standard of care in performing their duties.
If doctors perform the necessary diagnostic tests, properly analyze the results, and the cancer remains undiagnosed, there is no medical malpractice. In order to have a case, a doctor must have acted negligently in the diagnostic process, and that negligence must have resulted in harm to the patient.
Treating Brain Cancer
Brain cancer is difficult to treat due to its sensitive location and the grave risks associated with the available treatment options. Doctors may choose to surgically remove the tumor, or they may try some form of radiation or chemotherapy to destroy the cancer cells. Even with modern advanced treatments, the 5-year survival rate for brain cancer remains low, making it even more important for doctors to spot signs of brain cancer early on and to provide prompt treatment.
Brain Cancer Malpractice
A delayed, missed, or failed diagnosis can be fatal for brain cancer patients. The offices of Gilman & Bedigian have a successful track record of representing patients in medical malpractice cases. Our attorneys understand how to evaluate and strengthen each client's case, and our licensed physician on staff will assess the practices of the patient's doctors to determine instances of malpractice.