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Delayed treatment for misdiagnosed pancreatic cancer patients


For patients in Newton and across the country, it is beneficial for cancer to be detected early. Some cancers are worse than others when it comes to a survival rate and treatment options past a certain period. One of the more deadly cancers is pancreatic cancer. With the difficult nature of the disease and a new study showing the high percentage of misdiagnosis with this particular cancer, it makes it all the more dangerous.

At an annual gathering, it was revealed that a study showed that 31 percent of patients who had pancreatic cancer were misdiagnosed. That accounts for 98 out of the 313 patients involved in the study. Of the patients, 119 received a diagnosis other than pancreatic cancer. The most frequent misdiagnosis for pancreatic cancer was that the patient had gallbladder disease. Thirty-eight of the patients had a diagnosis of cholecystectomy. An additional 15 had gastroesophageal reflux diagnosis. Eleven were diagnosed with peptic ulcer.

Those complaining about abdominal discomfort were diagnosed more often than those without it at 85 percent verses approximately 65 percent. Next came weight loss with 85 percent suffering from it verses 75 percent. Fifty percent of patients had nausea and vomiting while 40 percent did not. Pancreatitis was evident in 30 percent verses fewer than five percent without it. Those misdiagnosed had a substantially reduced level of jaundice with 50 percent verses nearly 80 percent.

There was no difference between the time the symptoms began showing themselves and when the patient went for treatment. There was a difference in the time from when the first visit was made to the diagnosis of cancer. For those who received a misdiagnosis, it was 3.5 months. For those who were diagnosed, it was slightly more than half of one month. Physicians waited on average about one month longer from the visit to ordering a CT scan or other axial image technique. The initial misdiagnosis was often linked to the cancer being at a more advanced stage.

The failure to diagnose cancer will result in delayed treatment and the potential spread of disease. If there was an opportunity for a doctor to catch the disease earlier and that was missed, it is possible that the person grew sicker or died when treatment might have helped. Those who believe that they or a loved one were misdiagnosed need to understand their rights to be compensated by speaking to an experienced lawyer.

Source: oncologypractice.com, "DDW: Study finds pancreatic cancer misdiagnosis rate at 31%," Elizabeth Mechcatie, July 6, 2015

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