Cancer is one of the most feared medical conditions for most people. Important advances have been made in detecting and treating all types of cancers – although some more than others. Early diagnosis is key to being able to treat cancer before it spreads.
However, in a study published earlier this year in JAMA Network, various types of cancers took up five of the ten spots among the conditions that doctors most commonly miss or delay diagnosing. The study looked at information on over 800 cases.
Which types of cancer are most commonly associated with diagnostic errors?
The five types of cancer were:
Colorectal cancer came in at #1 on the list despite the emphasis placed on regular colonoscopies beginning at age 45 and at-home tests that can be prescribed by doctors. Rounding out the top ten were myocardial infarction (more commonly known as a heart attack), stroke, sepsis, pulmonary embolism and brain hemorrhage.
Diagnostic errors can occur for multiple reasons
Diagnostic errors, whether they involve delays in diagnosing a condition, an incorrect diagnosis or a failure to diagnose a condition, occur for all kinds of reasons. Everything from a patient not accurately or fully describing their symptoms to a failure by doctors or other medical professionals to accurately read a test result can cause a diagnostic error.
Doctors fail to listen to their patients because they’re rushed, not taking their patients’ symptoms seriously or failing to think outside the box and consider a condition that might not be common in a particular patient can all lead to errors by doctors. It’s crucial not just to order the appropriate tests but, as noted, to read the results correctly and follow up on any unusual results.
Diagnosis is not a perfect science. This is why it can be challenging to bring a malpractice claim against a doctor for a diagnostic error. However, if you believe that you or a loved one suffered harm because of a missed, delayed or wrong diagnosis, it’s worth getting legal guidance.