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While there may not seem to be a connection between the law and cancer, in fact a cancer diagnosis may lead to the need for a legal services.  This may be due to:

  • What caused of the cancer
  • When it was diagnosed, or
  • How it was treated

Cancer Diagnosis

Researchers are still identifying the reasons why one person gets cancer and another does not.  The fact remains, however, that some cancers are known to be caused or contributed to by specific cancer causing substances (e.g. carcinogens).  Cancers that are known to be associated with specific carcinogens include mesothelioma, leukemia, and breast cancer.

Mesothelioma: Although it strikes less than a 3,000 people every year in the U.S., mesothelioma is a deadly cancer and the number of victims is increasing.  Asbestos has been determined to be a cause of this disease.  Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven. Asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation.  Documents filed with various courts throughout the U.S. have demonstrated that many asbestos manufacturers were aware of the risks of its products but did not take reasonable steps to protect its employees or the public.  These actions (or lack of actions) have led to legal liability in many cases.  There are law firms that specialize in representing mesothelioma patients and other victims of asbestos. Michael Horwin, MA, JD. Michael is the founder of Cancer Monthly and a licensed attorney. He can provide you with information on reputable mesothelioma law firms throughout the country. Call 1-619-599-3112.

Leukemia: There are various types of leukemias (hematological malignancies or “blood cancers”) and there is mounting evidence that exposure to benzene is a cause especially for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).  Benzene is a chemical that is often used in the manufacturing of rubber, paint, plastics, resins, drugs, pesticides, synthetics, and is also present in gasoline and tobacco smoke.  Benzene exposure is most likely to occur among workers in facilities that use the chemical in their products. 

Breast Cancer: In 2004 there were about 216,000 cases of invasive breast cancer and 40,000 breast cancer deaths in the United States.  Breast cancer is a hormone-dependent disease.  For example, women without functioning ovaries and who never received estrogen replacement do not develop breast cancer.  According to some studies, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer.  HRT is used to help women cope with the unpleasant effects of the menopause, which normally occurs between the ages of 42 and 58 years.  There are law firms that specialize in representing women with breast cancer who took HRT drugs. 

Cancer Treatment

A cancer treatment may also have legal repercussions.  Examples include:

  • Delay in diagnosis
  • Misdiagnosis (new website)
  • Injury from the treatment itself (cancerlaw.net)

Delay in Diagnosis: A delay in diagnosis occurs when a patient has symptoms that would cause a reasonable physician to suspect cancer and yet a proper work-up was not performed.  Sometimes a delay in diagnosis may only be a few weeks and makes little difference in the prognosis.  But, a delay of many months can affect a patient’s chance for a cure.  In cases where a patient’s risk of death from cancer is significantly greater because doctors failed to recognize the signs of their disease, the patient may be entitled to compensation.  There are law firms that specialize in representing victims of delayed diagnosis.  

Misdiagnosis: Getting a timely diagnosis, but getting it wrong may be another problem for the recently diagnosed cancer patient.  For example, a brain cancer may be diagnosed as “high grade” or “aggressive” and the patient may be administered toxic therapies such as brain radiation and high doses of chemotherapy.  However, this patient may actually have a benign tumor that can be safely removed by surgery and no further treatment is required.  In such cases, the toxic therapy was administered unnecessarily.  In fact, according to some studies brain tumors may be wrongly diagnosed up to 30% of the time.  There is one law firm in the country that specializes in representing these types of victims – the law offices of Webb, Scarmozzino & Gunter, PA.  For more information, visit their website Brain Cancer Misdiagnosis Information Center.

Injury from Cancer Therapy: Conventional therapies for cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.  Each of these approaches has the potential to do harm when they are inappropriately used.  For example, an overdose of radiation or chemotherapy can result in organ damage or death and a mistake during surgery can be equally devastating.  The Cancer Law Center specializes in handling these cases.

Final Note: Obviously the information above is not legal advice.  However, if you or your loved one has been harmed by another it is important to contact an attorney quickly in order to preserve your right to file a lawsuit.  Statute of limitations limit the amount of time that victims have in which to initiate a lawsuit.  These limitations are different for each state, but can be as little as one year from the time of the alleged act.