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Cancer: not an uncommon misdiagnosis

Cancer is one of the most feared diagnoses a doctor in Iowa or any other state can give. ABC News reports that around 1.3 million people are found to have this deadly disease each year. While research is being done on the causes and cures for cancer, new studies are starting to emerge which detail a different side of the problem: misdiagnosis.


The John Hopkins University in Baltimore recently performed research to determine how often mistakes are being made in the diagnosis of cancer. Scientists found that 20 percent of 6,000 tissue samples were found to be misclassified. One out of every 71 of the total cases studied were also determined as a misdiagnosis, sometimes being labeled cancerous when there was no actual cancer present.


Mistakes of this type can cause a host of problems for patients, doctors and American taxpayers. The patient’s care can be altered due to misunderstanding the growth rate and type of the cancer involved. Invasive surgeries or treatments can be performed unnecessarily and cause lasting side effects. On the other hand, patients who are not given sufficient attention because of a mistake can end up dying from the lack of care. Some patients are even operated on without any sign of cancer and must then deal with lifelong consequences of the misjudgment.


The likelihood that a patient will be misdiagnosed is increased with certain types of cancer. Boston Magazine reports that the most commonly mistaken cancers include the following:


  •          Lymphoma
  •          Melanoma
  •          Breast cancer
  •          Sarcoma


Being unaware of the cancer’s location also often leads to a misdiagnosed case. One journal placed the rate of cancer misdiagnosis at 28 percent for all types of the disease.

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