The most commonly misdiagnosed cancers

A missed or delayed cancer diagnosis not only means that you may have to endure harder, more aggressive treatments than you would have if the disease had been spotted earlier, it also means that your chances of survival are diminished.

Information is your best weapon against medical malpractice -- which is why knowing how some of the most common cancers are overlooked can help you avoid becoming a victim:

1. Skin cancer

It's tragic to die from skin cancer these days because the survival rate is 98 percent when the cancer is detected early. Once it reaches the lymph nodes, survival drops to 62 percent. If it reaches your internal organs, your chance of survival drops to 18 percent.

Yet, about one person an hour dies from melanoma. These kinds of things get missed because primary care physicians often don't realize what they're looking at, prescribe a cream thinking that the skin lesion is just eczema or a contact rash and don't make a referral in time to a dermatologist.

2. Prostate Cancer

If you're a man, prostate cancer is the second most likely thing to kill you -- simply because your physician may chalk all the symptoms up to nothing more than age.

Symptoms include difficulty urinating, low back pain and problems getting and maintaining an erection. Since prostate cancer tends to occur mostly in those aged 65 and older, doctors may not think that there's anything seriously wrong.

3. Lung Cancer

About 25 percent of all cancer deaths are attributed to lung cancer -- making it one of the deadliest diseases for both genders.

Unless you are a smoker or former smoker, your cancer could be easily misdiagnosed as something like asthma instead. Since the symptoms of lung cancer include coughing, headaches, wheezing and shortness of breath, it's an easy conclusion to draw. There are also problems with accurate testing -- 90 percent of misdiagnosed cases start with a misread x-ray.

The problem comes in when the doctor doesn't carefully follow the results of treatment. If the treatment doesn't help, the doctor should suspect something more.

An attorney can help you learn more about your legal options if you were misdiagnosed or your cancer diagnosis was delayed because of negligent medical practices.

Source: Consumer Safety, "Failure to Diagnose and Cancer Misdiagnosis," accessed Nov. 10, 2017

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