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Baby boy endures delayed cancer diagnosis

A prompt, accurate diagnose of a medical condition is extremely important for Oregon patients. This is especially true for cancer patients, to ensure that they receive treatment as soon as possible. The misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose cancer can result in terminal health conditions.

The story of one baby boy shows the serious consequences of a delayed cancer diagnosis. When the little boy was born, he passed all the newborn screening tests. Twenty-four hours after delivery, the family left the hospital with their baby. Once home, they noticed his left foot was slightly bigger than his right foot. A few days later, a doctor examined it and thought it was a simple sprain.

The infant's left foot continued to get bigger. After two more weeks, doctors diagnosed him with a vascular malformation. This is a type of tumor, so the family was sent to an oncologist who could better treat it. However, there was no mention of the possibility that the tumor was cancerous.

Eventually the family had to take their son to the emergency room because of fears that the foot was becoming infected. After several days of scans and tests, doctors diagnosed the boy with venal lymphatic malformation.

The family decided to get another opinion. Their new doctor called an orthopedic surgeon and two radiologists to examine the boy's foot. A biopsy and ultrasound were conducted, and a few days later the family finally received the correct diagnosis. Their baby boy had a rare type of cancer that affects only about seven in one million infants.

The family continues to be frustrated over their son's delayed treatment and misdiagnosis. At this point, he will have to undergo chemotherapy and eventually have his foot amputated. The baby's prognosis is good, but the family believes treatment could have begun sooner if the boy's previous doctors had conducted the proper tests.

Source: Pierce County Herald, "Hastings baby diagnosed with rare cancer," Katrina Styx, Dec. 10, 2012

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