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Average Jury Verdicts in Cancer Misagnosis and Other Cancer Cases

A recent Jury Verdict Research study looking at cancer injuries involving negligence found that the average compensatory award is $4,147,526 (median is $2,052,500). Most of these cancer cases involve medical malpractice lawsuits for the failure to diagnose cancer.

One medical malpractice study found that 12% of the time, cancer is misdiagnosed because a doctor or other health care provder either missed the signs and symptoms of cancer and did not order further testing or because the cancer test was improperly executed, read, or an error was made with at the lab or with the radiologist. With breast cancer patients, mammograms have a false-negative – malignant cancer that goes undetected- rate of approximately 10%.

  • 2020, Indiana: $238,914 Settlement. A woman died of advanced jaw cancer that spread to her liver. This eventually led to a settlement. However, the estate also petitioned the Indiana Department of Insurance Commissioner for excess damages. They contended that the commissioner owed further compensation that totaled $238,914. This case eventually settled for that exact amount.
  • 2020, Massachusetts: $1,000,000 Settlement. A 36-year-old woman underwent two chest X-rays, both of which revealed a mass in her lung’s upper right lobe. Her radiologist recommended follow-up testing. The woman’s primary care physician failed to conduct such testing. Months later, another X-ray discovered that the mass doubled in size. She would eventually be diagnosed with Stage I-B lung cancer. The woman underwent lung resection and chemotherapy. Her treatment was unsuccessful, as her cancer metastasized to Stage IV. She sued her primary care physician for failing to recommend following up testing after her initial X-rays. The woman claimed that their failure to timely diagnose cancer breached the standard of care. This case eventually settled for $1,000,000, comprising the physician’s policy limits.
  • 2020, Pennsylvania: $9,600,000 Verdict. An 11-year-old girl visited the emergency room, having experienced vaginal bleeding for six months. The ER physician failed to conduct an examination or an ultrasound. Her guardian contended that she had either Stage I or II cervical cancer at the time, which was restricted to her cervix.  Nine months later, she received a Stage IV cancer diagnosis, which spread throughout her vagina and necessitated chemotherapy and radiation. She also underwent surgeries including a pelvic exenteration, and the removal of her bowel, bladder, rectum, anus, vagina, and a colostomy. Surgeons also installed urostomy and nephrostomy tubes that needed to be drained every three months. She was also put on medication that was intended to treat her genetic disposition to cancer. However, the medication affected her cardiac shortening fraction, which means it needs to be stopped periodically. The girl was not expected to live past 25 years of age. Her legal counsel contended that her delayed diagnosis increased her risk of harm and required her to undergo more intensive treatment. The jury awarded a $9,600,000 verdict.
  • 2019, Illinois: $1,700,000 Verdict. A 34-year-old pregnant woman visited two physicians, complaining of pruitis and ano-rectal area bleeding. She had a history of Crohn’s disease. They diagnosed her with a thrombosed hemorrhoid, despite not performing a biopsy on it. Six months later, a third physician diagnosed her with Stage III rectal cancer. They recommended the removal of her rectum and anus. She sued the initial two physicians she saw for failing to properly document the size of her anal mass and failing to make an accurate diagnosis. The physicians denied liability, claiming that their actions did not cause the woman’s injuries. A jury awarded her $1,700,000.
  • 2019, Florida: $500,000 Settlement. A man visited a dermapathologist, who misinterpreted tissue from his right chest as being an edematous intradermal nevus. Another biopsy revealed that it was malignant melanoma. The initial biopsy was reviewed and corrected. The man’s malignant melanoma necessitated the removal of the area and additional scans and treatment. He sued his dermapathologist for a delayed diagnosis by misinterpreting his biopsy specimen. The case settled for $500,000, which consisted of $300,000 in pain and suffering and $200,000 in future medical expenses.
  • 2018, South Carolina: $6,000,000 Settlement. A man died of melanoma, despite being told that he was cancer-free. He initially visited his family doctor to get a mole checked out. The doctor sent a sample to an oncologist for testing. The man returned ten days later to follow-up with his results. He was told by the nurse that all was well, despite not being shown the results. The man asked for the report but was told that it was not necessary for him to see it. He returned a year later and complained that his mole bothered him. Another biopsy was taken, which showed that the man suffered from malignant melanoma. Further test results also showed that his cancer already spread to his lymph nodes, leg, and liver. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The man filed a lawsuit but died before the case went to trial. His estate alleged that doctor’s office failed to show the man his lab results. Their attorney also found that this specific office had a history of not telling clients their pathology results. This case settled for $6,000,000.