Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Cancer is often misdiagnosed in young people

If a survey taken in the UK is any indication, officials in Pittsburgh and across the United States may wish to check out the manner in which doctors are conducting cancer diagnosis. The study showed that doctors failed to diagnose cancer in approximately one third of their patients between the ages of 13 and 24 when symptoms of cancer were present.

The survey showed that 12 percent were told that nothing was wrong, another 15 percent were told that they had an infection or virus, 10 percent were told they suffered from a sports injury, 6 percent were told that they suffered from stress or depression, 5 percent were prescribed painkillers, and 2 percent were told they had an eating disorder. Most of the teenage cancer patients had to make four separate visits to the doctor before they learned they were actually suffering from cancer.

This is obviously troubling since early diagnosis is essential in treating cancer. It is possible that if the young people were educated about their symptoms they could better have communicated with their doctors.

However, this being said, it is even more important that doctors learn how to communicate with their young patients. Doctors should learn to ask the right questions to determine what the patients symptoms are with precision.

If a doctor's failure to diagnose has led to the need for more extensive medical treatment, patients and family members may wish to contact an attorney to determine what options are available. Unfortunately, additional treatment that results because of a misdiagnosis may exceed the financial resources of those affected.

A failure to diagnose cancer can mean the difference between quick medical action and long term chemotherapy. Early diagnosis greatly increases the chance of the young person surviving.

Source: Medical Daily, "A Third of Young Patients with Common Cancer Symptoms Fail to Get Timely Diagnosis," by Christine Hsu, April 30, 2012

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