October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but, unfortunately, patients are diagnosed with various kinds of cancer throughout the year. While no one wants to learn they have cancer, an erroneous or delayed diagnosis can be even more serious. This is because survival rates are typically higher when the disease is detected and treated in its early stages.
So, when a doctor makes the wrong diagnosis, the patient may miss the opportunity for potentially life-saving treatment. Furthermore, although most doctors are knowledgeable and conscientious, cancer is misdiagnosed – or missed entirely – with alarming frequency. Here is a guide to cancer misdiagnosis and how patients can protect their rights and receive the compensation they deserve when a deadly mistake is made.
Depending on the research study, data shows doctors misdiagnose cancer in approximately 10% – 28% of patients. What’s more, some medical researchers believe the actual numbers are higher because many faulty diagnoses are never reported or pursued through legal action.
In fact, a study at the Mayo Clinic found only 12% of patients seeking a second opinion had the diagnoses from their original health care providers confirmed. For the other 88% of patients, the diagnoses were completely changed for 21% and revised for 66%. When the legions of people who never request second opinions are added in, the probable number of misdiagnosed patients is staggering.
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While doctors can misdiagnose almost any kind of cancer, certain types are more prone to mistakes than others. Some cancers have symptoms that are similar to those associated with other conditions. Examples are lung cancer and mesothelioma, whose symptoms can resemble tuberculosis (TB) or other respiratory diseases. Other cancers are so rare that doctors may not recognize them.
Misdiagnoses occur most often with the following types of cancer:
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Yes. A doctor can misdiagnose a patient in various ways, resulting in different, but equally serious, consequences.
Diagnosing the wrong kind of cancer
Specific types of medications and chemotherapy are used for different types of cancer. Administering treatment for the wrong cancer can harm a patient while the existing disease progresses due to lack of treatment.
Wrongly determining a patient does not have cancer
Undiagnosed cancer will eventually progress to a stage where the patient is no longer a candidate for successful treatment modes.
Erroneously diagnosing cancer when none exists
This could cause a patient to unnecessarily be subjected to potentially harmful treatments that include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or medication.
Sometimes it is difficult to know whether a diagnosis is correct. A patient who shows no improvement or whose condition worsens after being treated for a certain disease may have been misdiagnosed. However, treatment methods do not always produce the desired result, even when the diagnosis is accurate. Nevertheless, if a doctor fails to pursue other treatment options or additional testing, it is wise to seek a second opinion.
Here are some other signs that might indicate a patient was misdiagnosed:
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Here are some of the more common causes of cancer misdiagnoses:
Medical expertise is not required to take a proactive role in your health care. There are steps patients can take to help physicians make more accurate diagnoses and provide more effective care.
Keeping up with routine diagnostic screenings is the single most important way to prevent serious diseases. According to the American Cancer Society, 99% of Stage 1 localized breast cancers are curable when diagnosed and treated early. Sadly, one of many negative consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic was a sharp decline in routine cancer screenings compared to previous years. The most dramatic drop, between 63% – 90%, occurred in diagnostic procedures for breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancers.
Here are some other things patients can do to enhance the quality of their medical care:
If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a cancer misdiagnosis or other form of medical malpractice, we can help. Our knowledgeable legal team knows what it takes to hold the responsible parties accountable and win the compensation you and your family deserve. There are strict filing deadlines for medical malpractice cases, so it’s important to contact us immediately.
Medical malpractice law is complicated, but finding the right medical malpractice lawyer is simple.
Don’t let the legal clock run out. Fill out the brief form below or call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation remote consultation from the comfort and safety of your home.
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