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Cancer misdiagnosis: not an uncommon mistake

While most doctors in Louisiana make every effort to provide an accurate diagnosis of any condition, new research is pointing to the fact that cancer may be mislabeled more often than was previously thought. Boston Magazine reports on the slight mistake that is costing U.S. taxpayers almost $700 billion each year and some misdiagnosed patients their lives.

 

When it comes to mistakes in the correct labeling of cancers, it seems that certain types of cancers are more confusing than others. One study found that the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers included sarcomas, breast cancer, lymphoma, melanomas and any cancer in which the site was unknown. Doctors believe that part of the problem for this is that diagnostic resources are not adequate and accurate genetic information is not always available.

 

ABC News reports that researchers at The John Hopkins Hospital decided to delve further into the problem and found that as many as 20 percent of cancers are misclassified. After analyzing tissue samples from 6,000 cancer patients, they found that as many as one of every 71 cases were misdiagnosed. Since there are 1.3 million people each year who are diagnosed with cancer, the number of potentially incorrect cases is high.

 

While the problem of misdiagnosis poses a financial toll on tax payers, it also can lead to incorrect treatment for patients. This can be deadly in cases where an aggressive cancer is misclassified and not given proper attention, but it also means that some operations are performed unnecessarily when the person does not actually have cancer.