Cancer misdiagnosis: A serious concern

Cancer misdiagnosis is a serious problem and doctors’ failure to identify the presence of data can be fatal.

While preventative measures, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, can help people in Glen Cove detect the presence of cancer in its early stage, other types of cancer can be more difficult to identify. The American Cancer Society states that every year in the U.S., cancer is diagnosed in over a million people. Early detection can greatly improve a person's chance of survival but in many cases, doctors either fail to diagnose cancer completely or misdiagnose it as something less harmful.

A system of failures

For one woman in Brooklyn, a system of failures led to her untimely death from lung cancer. The New York Daily News reported that the single mother had gone to a local hospital when she began experiencing chest pain and a chronic cough. Over the next two years, she continuously sought treatment for the cough, which multiple doctors had diagnosed as asthma. Her treatment consisted of Motrin.

However, during her first visit, an x-ray had been ordered and unknown to her, none of her doctors had looked at the results of it. If they had, they would have learned that there was a nodule of 2 centimeters present in one of her lungs. It was only when she ended back up at the same hospital two years later that a different doctor examined it. However, by then, it was too late. The cancer had grown unchecked and what started out as a treatable condition had become terminal. She died later the same year, leaving behind a daughter with disabilities.

Misinterpretation of biopsies

While in the above case, the missed diagnosis was a result of doctors' failures to follow up on the results of an x-ray, a wrong diagnosis can also be linked to the misreading of a medical procedure. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently released the results of a study conducted on pathologists' interpretations of biopsies for breast cancer.

The study covered a two-and-a-half-year period and involved pathologists from eight different states who examined 6900 individual cases. Pathologists were asked to examine slides and identify whether the slides showed an invasive cancer, a benign condition or some other type of issue. The results of the study showed that among the different conditions a large number of slides were either under-interpreted or over-interpreted for each. For example, in slides that showed an invasive cancer, pathologists under-interpreted 4 percent of cases while on atypia cases, 35 percent were under-interpreted and 17 percent were over-interpreted.

Taking an active role

There are many things that can go wrong during medical testing and examinations for people in Glen Cove. However, they can protect themselves by taking an active role in their own care. This may include asking the doctor questions, making sure that doctors have looked at tests which were performed, and even seeking a second opinion if they feel that something isn't right.

When people are injured due to a doctor or hospital's negligence, the state of New York only has a short window available for filing a medical malpractice claim. Therefore, they may find it helpful to speak with an attorney.