When it comes to treating almost any kind of cancer, early detection can make all the difference. The sooner you start getting treatment, the better your prognosis will be. However, research has shown that doctors frequently misdiagnose certain types of cancer, which can have serious consequences.
Delayed treatment can be especially deadly in these cases. Learn more about the five most commonly misdiagnosed cancers in the United States
Lymphoma is a cancer affecting the body’s immune system cells. Symptoms such as fever, weight loss, fatigue and night sweats are common in various less severe conditions, leading to misattribution of these signs to the common cold or infections. Even the characteristic enlarged lymph nodes can be mistaken for other less serious conditions.
2. Breast cancer
Breast cancer is another cancer commonly misdiagnosed, leading to delayed detection. Doctors may overdiagnose precancerous cells that will not cause harm, subjecting patients to unnecessary treatments. Mammograms may miss around 16% of breast cancer cases, further contributing to delayed diagnosis. Early-stage breast cancer has a high survival rate, but when it progresses to stage IV, the chances of survival decrease significantly.
3. Colon cancer
Colorectal cancer, including cancer of the colon, rectum or bowel, is another type of cancer that doctors often miss. A colonoscopy is a common screening procedure used to detect this cancer. It not only identifies cancer but can also prevent it by allowing the removal of noncancerous polyps that could develop into cancer. The survival rate for colon cancer drops drastically as it progresses.
4. Lung cancer
Lung cancer, the second most common cancer in the United States, is challenging to detect due to its slow growth and lack of noticeable symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms like shortness of breath or chronic cough are often misattributed to other respiratory conditions. The survival rate decreases significantly as the cancer advances.
5. Skin cancers
Melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, is among the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers. Early-stage skin cancer can mimic other noncancerous conditions, leading doctors to dismiss suspicious marks or growths without further testing. Moreover, diagnostic errors in the lab, where pathologists analyze biopsy samples, can also occur. Skin cancer is particularly prone to pathologist errors when they have limited expertise in that specific type of cancer.
If you suspect any symptoms or have concerns about cancer, you should get medical attention or consider seeking a second opinion. Early detection and proper diagnosis significantly improve the chances of successful treatment and better outcomes for cancer patients.