Receiving a cancer diagnosis is scary and life-altering for the patient and their entire family.
Cancer misdiagnosis occurs more often than most people think. Many cancers are life-threatening and require treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis, making an accurate diagnosis very important.
What types of diagnosis errors happen?
If a patient is mistakenly told that they have cancer when they do not, this can lead to the patient receiving unnecessary treatment that can damage their health. A misdiagnosis of cancer or a delayed diagnosis can lead to a delay in treatment. A delay in treatment can put a patient’s life at risk and allow their health to worsen, causing them to need more aggressive and costly treatment.
What are the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers?
According to the National Law Review, the five most commonly misdiagnosed cancers are lymphoma, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer and skin.
What are common reasons for misdiagnosis?
There are many things that could cause a misdiagnosis. A doctor may misinterpret symptoms or perhaps not recognize the severity of symptoms if they are signs of a form of cancer that is not well-known. A pathologist may make an error when testing tissues. An x-ray may be misread. A patient may have missed a critical screening. If a doctor does not get a complete medical history from a patient, they may not recognize a risk factor.
Because cancer misdiagnosis is possible, patients must advocate for themselves. If a patient believes that their symptoms are serious, but a doctor dismisses their concerns, they should seek a second opinion.