A diagnosis of cancer can often be delayed, or overlooked entirely because many types of cancer in their early stages are symptomless. Also, cancer’s symptoms are very often vague or similar to the symptoms of other diseases. There can be many causes behind the misdiagnosis of cancer; since cancer can affect any part of the body, symptoms are often extremely varied in nature and severity.
Sometimes, tests for cancer are inadequate and fail to take account of the full range of possible diseases symptoms could be indicative of. Sometimes, cancers can be missed; for instance, it is common for breast cancer to be overlooked in males or young females.
It is also very common for cancer to be overlooked in children. Symptoms are often incredibly vague, and children may have difficulty describing their symptoms with sufficient eloquence.
Not only is there a risk of cancer being overlooked or misdiagnosed as something less serious, but it is also a serious problem for cancer to be diagnosed when the actual complaint is something much less severe; a misdiagnosis of a less serious condition with cancer can result in unnecessary treatment.
These treatments can often be quite invasive, disfiguring, or debilitating, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or even surgery.
When checking for a suspected misdiagnosis of cancer, or attempting to confirm a diagnosis of cancer, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions could be relevant to diagnosis.
Cancer misdiagnosis can take two forms. Firstly, diagnosing cancer can be delayed as the symptoms of cancer are sometimes misdiagnosed as other types of illness or disease. In such cases, because of the delay in discovering and diagnosing cancer, the patient’s prognosis may well be worse and cancer may be harder to treat. Of course, no one wants to get cancer. However, if we have basic knowledge about cancer, we can know the changes in the body and will soon receive the advice of doctors. That’s why we have cancer awareness months like November is lung cancer awareness month, October is breast cancer awareness month…
Secondly, other treatable illnesses or diseases can be wrongly misdiagnosed as being cancer. In these situations, the patient may have gone through invasive and unnecessary treatments and also endured the psychological and emotional trauma of believing that they have cancer.
Women with ovarian and cervical cancer are at the heart of the problem of misdiagnosed cancer. According to the charity Target Ovarian Cancer UK, ovarian cancer is misdiagnosed in over half of all cases, and therefore patients’ treatment is severely delayed. Target Ovarian Cancer is calling for a better early diagnosis of the disease which is often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, or ovarian cysts.
If ovarian cancer is diagnosed whilst it is in the first early stages then the survival rates can be as high as 100%. However, 75% of cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed when the disease has already spread, making the treatment of cancer more difficult.
Cervical cancer and its common misdiagnosis were brought into the forefront of the public eye when Jade Goody passed away in 2009 following a battle with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer, like ovarian cancer, is often misdiagnosed as other illnesses when the disease is at its most treatable. Due to delays in diagnosis, patients can be left infertile, and treating cancer can again be more challenging.
Misdiagnosis of cancer is very serious. In some cases, the misdiagnosis of cancer can be due to medical negligence. Sometimes, it may be possible to make a medical negligence claim for compensation. If you have suffered a misdiagnosis that you believe came about as a result of medical negligence, it is worth getting in touch with a firm of compensation solicitors as soon as possible.