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How Often do Doctors Misdiagnose Cancer?

How Often do Doctors Misdiagnose Cancer?

Cancer is one of the most challenging illnesses, affecting thousands of individuals each year. The fact that there is even a possibility that individuals run the risk of being misdiagnosed for cancer is quite disturbing.

Studies strongly suggest that the rate at which doctors misdiagnose cancer is 10%–28% for all cancer cases. Simply put, this sums up to about 40,000 deaths, or one in four individuals being misdiagnosed.

This article will reveal everything you need to know about misdiagnosed cancers, the reasons behind the misdiagnosis, and much more.

What is Cancer Misdiagnosis?

A cancer misdiagnosis occurs when a qualified medical doctor incorrectly diagnoses a patient with cancer.

This could happen as a result of the doctor missing obvious signs or the use of false tests that indicate that you do have cancer when, in reality, you do not.

The top five frequently misdiagnosed cancer types include breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, and lung cancer.

Let us look at each of them below.

Breast Cancer

It is always advisable that you get diagnosed early with breast cancer to have a good chance of survival. Most times, when it gets to the latter stages, you stand a high probability of being misdiagnosed, which makes it even worse.

Breast cancer symptoms include a lump, discomfort, nipple discharge, etc. A breast cancer diagnosis during the early stages is always the best way to treat breast cancer and prevent it from getting to its later stages, such as invasive breast cancer, etc.

Doctors who diagnose breast cancer sometimes may ignore certain warning signs or work with incomplete information, making a breast cancer misdiagnosis in the end.

There are breast cancer misdiagnosis lawyers that can help you with your case. You can also get a breast cancer malpractice lawyer or a breast cancer attorney if you feel a doctor’s failure to diagnose you is the reason for your condition and receive compensation.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a dangerous form of cancer that, with delayed diagnosis, could affect the bladder, intestines, lymph nodes, bones, lungs, and liver.

The main reason why this disease gets misdiagnosed is that symptoms do not appear during its initial stage. Failure to detect them through regular examination can lead to misdiagnosis for some doctors.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer tends to be very common among adults aged 50 and older. It is easy for doctors to have a colorectal cancer misdiagnosis because of poor communication between them and the patients.

Also, doctors perform certain medical procedures, such as colonoscopies, without first determining whether the patient has a clean colon fit for the operation.

Nonetheless, this cancer can quickly go unnoticed and, if not detected early, can lead to serious health conditions for the patient.

Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer affects the inner lining of the uterus in adult women aged 40 and above. Similar to other forms of cancer, this one can cause serious health complications if not detected early and treated immediately.

The reason for endometrial cancer misdiagnosis is simply because doctors do not have clear communication with their patients about their health to detect signs of this disease. Other times, it may just be negligence on the part of the doctor as well.

Lung Cancer

One positive thing about lung cancer is that it can be successfully treated if detected early enough. Now, where there might be a challenge is the detection stage because lung cancer sometimes manifests itself as an illness, making it difficult to detect.

Nonetheless, a good medical doctor should be able to identify one, and early identification could be the difference between life and death for the affected individual involved.

Reasons Why Doctors Misdiagnose Cancer

There are several reasons why doctors misdiagnose cancer. They include the following:

Ignoring symptoms

Some of these cancers come with subtle or no symptoms during their early stages. A doctor who isn’t attentive enough may ignore these symptoms as something causal. In the interim, they are paving the way for these cancers to fully manifest.

Making wrong assumptions

Some doctors think cancer is an older people’s disease. Hence, they find it difficult to believe that a young person has cancer and may attribute the symptoms to something else, putting that individual’s life at serious risk.


Doctors who are specialists in a certain field may only have limited knowledge of different forms of cancer, which could cause them not to know the next step to take when a patient has cancer outside their specialty, leading to misdiagnosis.

Poor communication

Doctors sometimes do not take their time to communicate with their patients well enough to know their health histories, records, and other relevant information. This leads to them making a wrong diagnosis that would affect their patients severely.

Faulty lab equipment

Doctors usually do laboratory tests for a patient’s breast cancer and other forms of cancer before taking any action. If the equipment used in conducting the test is faulty, it could lead to wrong lab results and, in turn, a misdiagnosis on the part of the doctor for their patients.

Claims You can Make if You are a Victim of a Cancer Misdiagnosis

If you are a victim of a cancer misdiagnosis, you can make certain claims, such as a claim for medical bills and expenses, lost wages, physical and emotional pain, mental suffering, and death.

You can also make these claims on behalf of a loved one, a friend, or someone else you know, so long as you have the evidence readily available to back up your claim.


Being a victim of a cancer misdiagnosis can be very disheartening. At Frischman & Rizza, we are here to offer you a free consultation and help you get the compensation you deserve.

We have highly experienced medical malpractice attorneys that would work diligently to help you file a medical malpractice lawsuit with a high chance of getting certain medical malpractice claims.

You can contact us at (412) 291-9377 or visit us at 7300 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15208.

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