Its hard enough battling cancer, but a new report in the medical journal Cancer maintains that doctors make diagnosis errors in more than one in ten cases of the disease. The report says in many of these cases, the error resulted in patient harm.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh say, until now, not much has been written or studied on cancer misdiagnosis. In particular, doctors have not had a good grasp of how common the problem is and what impact it has had on patient health.
When the research team looked at diagnosis mistakes among cancer patients at four hospitals, they found the frequency of errors ranged from 1.79 percent to 9.42 percent for gynecological cases and from 4.87 percent to 11.8 percent for other cases. They found that some errors were significantly linked to particular hospitals but did not name them.
The report said nearly half the mistakes were caused by misinterpreting test results, while the rest were mostly attributable to poor sampling of tissue.
The researchers said they found a significant number of the errors nearly half had traumatic consequences for the patient. Harm from the errors ranged from putting the patient through unnecessary tests, to losing a limb, to death.
The authors of the study say they compiled the research in an effort to help those who want to standardize cancer diagnostic and treatment methods.