Doctors are expected to provide high quality care for North Carolina patients. This standard includes more than the treatment of known medical conditions. Physicians also must perform the proper diagnostic procedures to prevent the development of diseases like cervical cancer.
Women are advised to undergo regular medical examinations of the reproductive organs so doctors have the opportunity to perform tests to detect abnormalities. Cervical exams include tests to check for human papillomavirus or HPV, which can but does not always lead to cervical cancer, and Pap tests or smears to determine the status of cervical cells.
The presence of these abnormalities does not indicate a patient has cancer or will develop the disease. However, physicians must recognize abnormal cells and HPV can be precursors to cervical cancer and treat a patient appropriately.
Pap test results show whether abnormal cervical cells do or do not exist. In some instances, cells that don’t qualify as normal or abnormal are identified. Three-fourths of women with inconclusive Pap smears do not have abnormal cervical cells.
HPV is the cause of cervical cancer and changes in cervical cells, which are graded according to the degree of abnormality. Moderate to severely abnormal cells known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or carcinoma in situ may indicate an early stage of cancer. HPV is also classified by type — types 16 and 18 are associated with all but 30 percent of cervical cancers.
Results of these tests are used to determine how treatment should proceed. A doctor may recommend shorter intervals between tests, a microscopic examination of the cervix called a colposcopy or immediate treatment.
A negligent physician may fail to detect abnormalities or diagnose cancer until the disease has spread, endangering a patient’s health or survival. Victims of medical malpractice may speak with attorneys at The Melvin Law Firm about filing civil claims against medical professionals whose carelessness causes harm.