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Misdiagnosed cancer can lead to severe issues for the patient


Patients in Newton and throughout Massachusetts who face the fear of being diagnosed with cancer are relieved when they're told they're in the clear or prepare for treatment when they're told they're facing the dreaded disease. However, the number of mistakes that are made with a failure to diagnose cancer or diagnosing the disease when the patient is not suffering from it can cause a vast amount of damage to the patient and his or her family. Some suffer a worsened condition if the diagnosis is missed. Others receive or come close to receiving treatment they don't need when there has been misdiagnosed cancer.

For example, one 48-year-old man received a prostate cancer diagnosis. He was preparing to have the prostate removed as a means of treatment when, moments before the surgery, a check of his biopsy revealed that an error had been made and there was no cancer. While the man was relieved, he was also close to having an unnecessary surgery because of this mistake. A study of people who received a cancer diagnosis showed that 1.3 million were diagnosed with cancer annually. Often, the diagnosis is made in the laboratory by a pathologist and this pathologist never encounters the patient. Research at Johns Hopkins found that out of 6,000 cancer patients, one of every 71 was a misdiagnosed case. As many as 20 percent were not classified correctly.

Obviously, if a patient receives a misdiagnosis, it will directly influence the care provided. Deciding whether or not to have surgery can be affected by the diagnosis. In some instances, like the man discussed earlier, there is the decision to perform surgery when it isn't even needed. When there is a biopsy, there are often mistakes made with breast cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer and female reproductive cancers. Getting a second opinion is wise in any event, but often it is too late as the patient goes for treatment as soon as possible to get a jump on the disease.

Considering the ramifications of misdiagnosed cancer, people can die when they didn't need to or have procedures that were not necessary. A negligent physician needs to be held responsible for these mistakes specifically if it is a life-changing error. Speaking to a legal advocate is a way to decide on pursuing compensation through litigation.

Source: ABC News, "Misdiagnosed Cancer Not Uncommon," John McKenzie, accessed on Jan. 20, 2015

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