Study Finds Pancreatic Cancer Often Misdiagnosed

Connecticut residents will probably be aware that an early diagnosis is crucial in cancer cases, and this is especially true when the cancer involved has a very low survivability rate. The survival rate for pancreatic cancer is below 10 percent, and a 2015 study indicates that about one in three people who develop the disease will be misdiagnosed. Researchers studied the cases of 313 patients who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and 98 of them were originally told that they were suffering from gallbladder disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcers or other conditions.

The impact of a cancer misdiagnosis can be catastrophic, and the misdiagnosed patients studied were denied potentially life-saving treatment for an average of three months. Misdiagnosed patients may also undergo unnecessary treatment or surgery. Doctors performed cholecystectomies on 38 of the patients studied after gallbladder disease had been diagnosed. While the symptoms of the misdiagnosed and correctly diagnosed patients were broadly similar, misdiagnosed patients were less likely to display signs of jaundice and more likely to suffer from pancreatitis.

Perhaps most alarming was the stage that the pancreatic cancer had reached in the misdiagnosed patients. About 23 percent of the correctly-diagnosed patients were found to be suffering from stage IV pancreatic cancer, but the disease had reached this stage in 39 percent of the misdiagnosed patients. Misdiagnosed patients also tended to survive for shorter periods.

Attorneys with medical malpractice experience may urge patients to seek a second opinion when cancer is suspected but not diagnosed. They could also initiate litigation against doctors when cancer is missed during screening due to recklessness or oversight. Proving these allegations can sometimes be challenging, and attorneys may seek out experts to analyze medical records for signs indicating that the care provided to their clients was deficient in some way.