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Cancer Misdiagnoses Plague Patients

Cancer MisdiagnosisHearing “you have cancer” is often one of the most frightening and perplexing diagnoses a patient can receive. However, as nearly 12 million Americans can attest, a cancer misdiagnosis is even more concerning – leading many on an endless trek of trips to specialists, second opinions and middle-of-the-night fraught.

A cancer misdiagnosis not only causes the patient significant anxiety, but can impose a substantial financial burden for the patient and his family. Fortunately, there are several steps a patient can take to help mitigate the effects of a cancer misdiagnosis – or, rather, avoid the experience all together. By maintaining a heightened, active role in one’s care, the possibility of a cancer misdiagnosis could be significantly lessened or eliminated all together – affording patients the confidence and comfort in their diagnosis they deserve.

Maintain relationship with primary care physician

One of the pitfalls of visiting several specialists about a possible cancerous tumor is the heightened chance of crossed wires and miscommunication between the several doctors involved. Maintaining regular and constant communication with a primary care physician can help keep medical information organized and well-managed. This will also help eliminate the chance that information from one specialist won’t be missed by another specialist.

Stay active and informed

Patients are their own best advocates, and staying active and informed following a cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis can be the best way to ensure all doctors and physicians are on the same page and carefully reviewing the details of the relevant diagnostic information. Experts recommend patients arrive on time to their appointments, take notes and ask several questions about every aspect of their care.

Ask for a second opinion

A second opinion can offer  a patient the peace of mind he or she desperately seeks. Sometimes, with a fresh set of eyes on the problem, a new doctor will discover issues with the case that were previously unexplored. Moreover, a second opinion that affirms the original diagnosis can offer the patient much-needed relief. Statistics reveal that doctors on average spend just eight minutes per patient, which is clearly insufficient time to thoroughly review a complex set of symptoms and offer a surefire diagnosis of the underlying issue.

When seeking a second opinion, however, experts caution against going outside one’s original healthcare network as this could quickly lead to miscommunication between providers.

Use technology to keep educated

Today’s internet and social media technology can provide invaluable support and information to patients facing a possible cancer misdiagnosis. Tapping in to social media can allow patients the opportunity to share their experience with one another.

In addition, several websites offer patients the opportunity to discuss their misdiagnosis with others having endured a similar journey. Some quality websites also offer comprehensive diagnostic tools to help patients uncover a possible alternative explanation for their symptoms. However, it is important to be mindful of the limits of internet technology and to not substitute an online diagnosis for that of a real physician or medical professional.