Watch the video below to receive an overview of cancer misdiagnosis and how cancer testing and diagnosing cancer properly works.
Hello everyone, Dr Bill Hinnant here, physician and attorney. I think our topic today is cancer misdiagnosis. First of all, it’s always unfortunate when you’re given a diagnosis of cancer, but fortunately in today’s world, the treatment of cancer is such that it’s progressed to where most patients, particularly with early detection, can do very well.
But what about cancer misdiagnosis? What if you actually are diagnosed with cancer and don’t have cancer? Or what if you’re diagnosed with a certain type of cancer and it turns out to be an incorrect diagnosis either pathologically or anatomically?
The ramifications of that type of misdiagnosis or lack of a diagnosis are significant. It’s important to diagnose cancer timely and we’re going to cover that issue in other talks that we plan here, that is a delayed diagnosis of cancer.
But what about the misdiagnosis? There are several ways you can have a misdiagnosis. One, the particular pathology from whatever the organ may be may be diagnosed incorrectly by the physician looking at the tissue slide obtained when you undergo a biopsy. A second possibility would be that maybe you’re diagnosed with a common type of cancer like cancer of glandular cells, which is called adenocarcinoma, cancer of protective cells that generally cover either the skin or the serosive organs that are squamous cell or so squamous cell carcinomas.
In the case of a diagnosis being made where the type of cancer pathologically is misdiagnosed, it’s critical that such an error not be made. The reason being that whether it’s surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy, each of the treatment regimens that are most effective for those tumors are going to be specific to a given cell type.
So if the type of cancer diagnosed is not correct, you may not get the correct treatment, and this may not be the fault of your treating physician. It may be the fault of the pathologist who simply called the wrong cancer. Your treating physician is expected to treat you. He’s not expected to make the diagnosis pathologically.
So you have to rely on the pathologist who is trained to recognize tumors under the microscope and what they look like.
More Information about Cancer Misdiagnosis
According to the one study, cancer misdiagnosis could occur in up to 28 percent. Survey data shows that doctors underestimate the likelihood of misdiagnosis. Understanding the process of cancer diagnosis is crucial to fully understanding how cancer misdiagnosis occurs. Doctors and patients must understand that no single test can accurately diagnose cancer.
Any stage of the cancer misdiagnosis procedure can lead to misdiagnosis. Human error, such as negligence or incompetence by doctors when determining the types of cancer testing required to diagnose cancer, may lead to misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis of cancer can occur during the testing process. This could include errors in diagnosing imaging, improper collection of cell samples for biopsy, or poor procedure. Sometimes, doctors and specialists fail to recognize cancer correctly in some cases.
Cancer Misdiagnosis Overview: Cancer Tests for Cancer misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis of cancer is often caused by human error or imperfections in the testing process. False positive and false negative results can lead to cancer misdiagnosis. False positive test results for cancer can indicate the presence of cancer, even though the patient is not suffering from it. False-negative results can indicate that a patient with cancer does not have it. Failing cancer screening results can lead to devastating consequences for patients.
Cancer Misdiagnosis Overview: How Cancer Testing Works
Different types of cancer testing work in different ways. This can impact how a patient’s diagnosis of cancer. Pathologists must analyze and interpret virtually all types of cancer testing. Pathologists are specialists who diagnose and study diseases like cancer. Even if cancer testing yields accurate results, mistakes or lack of knowledge can lead to misdiagnosis.
Cancer Misdiagnosis Overview: The Subjective Method of Diagnosis Of Cancer
Many cancer misdiagnoses is due to differences in expertise, knowledge, and opinions between pathologists when they examine cell samples or use diagnostic imaging results. Two different pathologists might come to opposing conclusions about whether the same sample has signs or patterns of cancer if they examine it. Sometimes, a patient with a non-cancerous condition is diagnosed and later, an analysis by a different pathologist shows that abnormal cells in the patient’s body are cancerous.
Patients should seek second opinions from oncologists who specialize in that type of cancer. General diagnostic services might not be sufficient to diagnose a particular type of cancer. Pathologist experience can make a difference in the correct diagnosis and timely treatment of cancer.
Common Cancer Testing Failures
Some types of cancer testing are more likely to result in a misdiagnosis than others. A mammography (a type of X-ray used to diagnose breast cancer) can have a misdiagnosis rate of up to 20%. Some types of cancer testing, such as blood tumor markers, may prove effective in certain cases but not in others. It is often difficult to correctly classify and identify cancer because of its complex nature of it.
Mammography for Breast Cancer
Mammograms are a common method of screening for breast cancer. According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, several risk factors can increase the likelihood of inaccurate mammogram results. High breast tissue density is one of the most prevalent risk factors. High breast density can make it difficult for mammography to detect potentially cancerous lesions. Breast density is mainly genetic. Due to higher breast density, older women are more likely to be misdiagnosed with mammographic cancer.
Blood Test Tumor Markers
Some types of blood tests for cancer can be used to detect tumor markers. Certain chemicals may be produced by cancerous tumors as tumor markers. Some tumor markers can be produced in the body naturally. However, elevated levels of specific tumor markers can indicate cancer. They may also be indicative of other conditions that are not necessarily cancerous. This can lead to the misdiagnosis of cancer. Tumor markers might not always be found in patients with cancer. It is possible that tumor markers may not be specific for a particular type of cancer. This could cause difficulty in diagnosing the disease.