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The Life-Threatening Consequences of a Cancer Misdiagnosis

By: Anapol Weiss

A cancer diagnosis is devastating. Unfortunately, patients’ lives and well-being are put in even more danger when a physician fails to diagnose cancer in a timely or correct manner. Treatment is then delayed, which can cost a patient his or her life.

Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis

The chance of survival is highest when breast cancer is detected at an early stage. Women often do not experience symptoms early on, so it’s the duty of their doctors to find early signs and act on them. Further, mammography can miss up to 30 percent of breast cancer cases, so a woman’s breast cancer diagnosis frequently depends largely on the thoroughness of her doctor.

Breast cancer can spread to the lymph nodes or to another part of the body if left untreated, so a fast and accurate diagnosis is crucial to avoid deadly consequences. At best, late diagnosis can mean surgeries and chemotherapy that might not have been originally needed. For some, treatment could come too late. Conversely, some women have been wrongly diagnosed with breast cancer and had partial or full mastectomies before learning they never had cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Misdiagnosis

Colorectal cancer —cancer of the colon and/or rectum — is the second deadliest cancer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also highly curable if detected early. Survival rates rapidly decline as the stages of colon cancer progress. Colonoscopies and other screening tests are often able to find cancer early and sometimes prevent it by removing precancerous polyps.

What happens when a doctor misses a polyp during an exam, or a biopsy produces false-negative results? A person could be left with a cancer inside them that spreads until it’s too late to cure. Another possibility is that cancer is wrongly diagnosed, and a patient needlessly undergoes surgery to remove part of the colon or rectum.

Melanoma and Skin Cancer Misdiagnosis

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Melanoma is the deadliest but accounts for less than two percent of skin cancer cases. When a skin abnormality that goes unnoticed is actually cancer, it can spread to other parts of the body before a patient is properly diagnosed. Early detection is critical.

Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer for both men and women in the United States. With the decrease in those smoking, lung cancer is occurring more frequently in non-smokers. CT-scans of the chest can detect lung cancer sufficiently early to allow successful treatment. However, the failure of patient’s doctors to order follow-up testing when an abnormality is found can prevent early detection.

Contact Our Firm for Assistance

Anyone can be the victim of a cancer misdiagnosis, but it’s unacceptable when patients are the ones who must suffer the consequences for a medical mistake. Contact our firm if you or a loved one was the victim of an incorrect or delayed diagnosis.