The Law Offices of John Phebus

Spreading awareness of childhood cancer

Arizona parents who have children with cancer know that it is a highly emotional issue. September is designated as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month around the world, and organizations like the UK-based First4SeriousInjury promote it withfundraising for cancer research and social media campaigns. Advocates say that parents who are dealing with cancer in a child need support and information about dealing with the disease. It is often misdiagnosed, and for children and their parents, this can also be a difficult situation to deal with.

Every year in the United States, 40,000 children who have been diagnosed with cancer begin treatment. About 12 percent of those do not survive. Cancer can strike any child regardless of gender, ethnicity, social or economic class.

However, a surprising number of cancer diagnoses are erroneous. According to Johns Hopkins University researchers, one out of every 71 cases of cancer is misdiagnosed. A misdiagnosis of cancer can mean treatment begins when the patient does not actually have the disease. This can be dangerous physically, in addition to causing unnecessary emotional stress and financial burden.

Though it might be a great relief to be told that a child's cancer diagnosis was a mistake, irreparable damage may have been done by the time it is discovered. This can include financial loss, emotional stress and most seriously, physical harm to the child caused by unnecessary treatments. In some cases, a misdiagnosis could rise to the level of medical malpractice if it resulted from the failure of a health care practitioner to exhibit the requisite standard of care. Parents who have been affected in such a manner may want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse they may have.

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