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Cancer Study: Doctors Miss Cancer Diagnosis in 71 out of 6,000 Patients

Talk to a New York City Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer About Your Case

Being diagnosed with cancer is a devastating event, but learning you have cancer after a doctor previously missed the disease is a blow no one should have to bear. Unfortunately, studies show that cancer misdiagnosis occurs with alarming frequency. 

When a diagnosis of cancer is missed or delayed, the disease can progress to a point where it becomes uncurable, or treating it requires more extensive treatments or surgery. Patients may be forced to take time off work or to stop working entirely. In many cases, they must also deal with a diminished quality of life while they undergo aggressive treatment. In the most catastrophic cases, a cancer misdiagnosis leads to a patient’s preventable death.

If your doctor missed your cancer diagnosis or delayed diagnosing you, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your losses, including money for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, future medical expenses, and other damages. It’s important to discuss your missed cancer diagnosis case with a New York City medical malpractice lawyer. 

How Often Do Doctors Miss a Cancer Diagnosis?

Most people are brought up to revere and admire doctors; society views physicians and other health professionals as intelligent and competent. However, doctors are still human beings and like anyone else, they can make mistakes. When they do, patients may suffer the consequences.

According to several studies, missed cancer diagnosis happens more often than many people realize. Even more concerning, doctors themselves underestimate just how often they and their colleagues get it wrong. 

In a 2013 study jointly published by Best Doctors and the National Coalition on Health Care, researchers surveyed over 400 doctors who stated that the cancer misdiagnosis rate fell in a range between zero and 10 percent. 

When researchers compared the doctors’ estimates to the real statistics from the BMJ Journal, however, they found that doctors actually misdiagnosed cancer in 28 percent of cases.  

In another study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, researchers found that doctors completely missed a cancer diagnosis in 71 out of 6,000 cases, and mistook one type of cancer for another in 1 out of 5 cases.

The findings show that there is a wide gap between how often doctors think they miss a cancer diagnosis and how often they actually fail to diagnose cancer. This disparity harms patients and causes them to forego treatment that could improve their outcomes and possibly even save their lives. 

Why Do Doctors Misdiagnose Cancer?

Doctors can miss a cancer diagnosis for a variety of reasons. In many cases, misdiagnosis is brought about by some kind of error in the pathology process. When doctors send out a biopsy sample for analysis, a pathologist reviews the sample and runs tests to determine if the sample is cancerous. 

It’s also possible for a doctor to dismiss a patient’s symptoms or concerns during an office visit or exam. Far too often, patients leave a doctor’s office feeling like they were rushed through a visit or not given an opportunity to have all their questions answered. This may even cause a patient to avoid seeking future treatment because a doctor made them feel silly or like a hypochondriac. 

When doctors dismiss a patient’s concerns or fail to conduct follow up tests or exams, they can miss a cancer diagnosis. For the vast majority of cancers, early diagnosis and intervention is key to stopping the cancer from progressing and giving the patient the best prognosis possible. 

Additionally, cancers that are caught early are often far easier to treat with fewer aggressive interventions than those that are allowed to progress unchecked. When doctors fail to diagnose cancer in a timely manner, patients pay the price with their health, their finances, and sometimes even their lives. 

Ways to Reduce Missed Cancer Diagnosis 

In the BMJ Journal study that looked at how often doctors miss a cancer diagnosis, doctors also responded with ways they believe missed diagnoses can be reduced. In the study, 36 percent of doctors said they think new diagnostic tools and methods in pathology would help reduce the number of cancer misdiagnosis cases.

In the same study, 17.8 percent of doctors said they believed new methods of genetic testing for tumors could improve outcomes and reduce the number of missed diagnoses in cancer patients. Another 15 percent of doctors said better radiology resources could cut down on the number of missed cancer diagnosis cases. 

Contact a NYC Medical Malpractice Lawyer About Your Case

If you are a victim of medical malpractice due to a doctor misdiagnosing your cancer or delaying your cancer diagnosis, it’s important to speak to a New York City medical malpractice lawyer about your case. There are strict time limits for filing a medical malpractice claim, so it’s important to act quickly to protect your right to receive compensation. 



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Jonathan C Reiter Law Firm

Jonathan C Reiter Law Firm