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The Most Misdiagnosed Cancers And Why They Are Missed

November 07, 2017


According to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, cancers get misdiagnosed up to 28 percent of the time. On top of that, there are some types of cancer that get misdiagnosed as much as 44 percent of the time.


This data is troubling for more than one reason. A misdiagnosis of any kind — cancer or not — can have rough consequences for the patient. A misdiagnosis, especially one that is cancer, can lead to the wrong treatment that may harm the patient further, unnecessary expenses and pain and suffering.


It is never easy to go against the word of a doctor, but they are humans too and humans make mistakes. According to a nationwide survey, 400 cancer specialists compiled a list of the cancers that are more likely to be misdiagnosed. The top four are as follows in no particular order:


  1. Breast Cancer – begins when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control and form a tumor visible on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is cancer if those cells can invade surrounding tissues or spread. Mostly occurs in women but men can get breast cancer too.

  2. Lymphoma – a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system. There are two types of lymphoma: non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin.

  3. Sarcoma – cancerous tumors of the connective tissues, which include fat, blood vessels, nerves, bones, muscles, deep skin tissues and cartilage.

  4. Melanoma – a cancer of the skin that begins in melanocytes. Melanocytes produce pigment melanin that colors the skin, hair and eyes, and they also form moles, where melanoma often develops.


There are multiple reasons why cancer can end up misdiagnosed but the big three are inadequate time for patient evaluation, fragmented information and human error.

Inadequate time for patient evaluation basically pertains to a busy doctor not having the time to spend with each of his or her patients and really evaluate what may or may not be wrong with them. A doctor who is pressed for time tends to concentrate more on getting to the next patient than on the one sitting on the table.


Fragmented information is also difficult to navigate as doctors are stuck trying to piece together the puzzle. Mix that with incomplete medical history and things can be overlooked.

As stated earlier, doctors are human too. Human error can occur and can lead to the misdiagnosis of cancer at any point.


Again, it is never comforting to feel you have been misdiagnosed with something as severe as cancer but it is important for you to have idea of the possibility. If you or a loved one feel you have been misdiagnosed and are suffering for it then it is time you contact a lawyer. The medical malpractice attorneys at Berger Lagnese & Paul, LLC in Pennsylvania have the experience to help you get the most favorable outcome. Contact them at 412-471-4300 for a free case evaluation.


The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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