Cancer is a scary word. Fortunately, many cancers are treatable these days, especially if they are detected early. Early screening for cancers of the colon and prostate and self-exams for breast and skin cancer, for example, allow doctors to act quickly to diagnose and start treatment. Even without these methods of early detection, you might just feel like something is wrong.
However, what happens when your Oregon doctor fails to diagnose your cancer in time? Sadly, many cancer patients suffer long-term consequences, such as disability or disfigurement, when their doctors fail to diagnose them in time. For some, the disease may even progress beyond all treatment options.
How doctors can miss a cancer diagnosis
Cancer is the third most commonly misdiagnosed medical condition; lung cancer specifically is the type of cancer that doctors most often miss. This is especially tragic since lung cancer is relatively easy to treat, with survival rates as high as 92%. Unfortunately, the odds drop markedly when your doctor fails to reach a correct diagnosis and consequently delays treatment. Advanced stages of cancer typically lead to more aggressive and expensive treatments, loss of quality of life and a significantly lower chance of survival.
Since cancer symptoms often mimic other less sinister illnesses, your doctor may not have the answer right away. You should expect your medical team to aggressively pursue the reasons for your symptoms.
What can cause an incorrect or delayed cancer diagnosis?
If you receive a wrong diagnosis, it may be for any of the following reasons:
- Failure to provide you with a referral to a specialist or to secure an appointment for you
- Failure to obtain your personal or family history of cancer
- The assumption that your symptoms are linked to a more common cause, such as allergies or the flu
- Mistakes in the lab, such as processing errors or misread scans
- Time constraints that cause doctors to neglect to listen to all of your complaints
- Doctors who dismiss your symptoms because you do not fit the profile for that type of cancer or because they have personal prejudices
It can be more than frustrating to have a doctor disregard your medical concerns or fail to take your symptoms seriously. A wrong diagnosis can be life-changing – or even life-ending. It is important that you advocate for yourself and speak up when you believe your doctor has gotten it wrong.
If you are already suffering as a result of a missed cancer diagnosis, you will want to seek every available option for righting that wrong and improving your quality of life.