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Can overdiagnosis of cancer be equated with misdiagnosed cancer?


Most occurrences of misdiagnosed cancer in Newton might be associated with a medical professional failing to diagnose cancer, leading to delayed treatment and the spread of disease. However, there are other ways in which cancer being misdiagnosed can cause a patient problems. If a person is told the person has cancer when the disease really isn't there, this might fall into a different variance of the category of misdiagnosed cancer. The idea of cancer being overdiagnosed might sound odd, but it is increasingly common.

Doctors are becoming increasingly aggressive when it comes to looking for cancer and it is leading to more people being diagnosed. The idea is that cancers are being found too early. Overdiagnosis and misdiagnosis are not the same, but it can lead to extra treatments that might not be needed. It can also cause the patients to suffer from needless worry resulting in psychological issues. With mammograms, for example, a shadow might be deemed to be a false positive. For prostate cancer, PSA tests could be elevated making a doctor want to conduct a biopsy to determine whether or not there is cancer.

Overdiagnosis can be the detection of a tumor that would not have been found through unless screening was done. For a woman who has breast cancer that is considered tiny, it might never increase in size to the point at which it would cause a health problem. If it is found through intensive examination and medical technology, treatment might be dispensed that was not required to treat it. If there is a disease like pancreatic cancer that has a very high rate of fatality, the earlier detection would only show a longer window for the diagnosed person to live rather than any treatments improving the prognosis. It is, in effect, a misleading statistic based on the earlier diagnosis.

While people who are suffering from cancer will have the general fear and worry about the disease, they will also be relieved that they were diagnosed early enough to ostensibly "treat" the disease. But, if there is a diagnosis that was made by mistake, or if a person was "overdiagnosed" and the treatment was not necessary, this too can be a medical error. Discussing the matter with a legal professional to determine whether or not there is a basis for a legal filing can provide insight.

Source: Forbes, "How Much Are We Over-Diagnosing Cancer?," Peter Ubel, May 22, 2015

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