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Types of Cancers That Are Most Commonly Misdiagnosed


Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in one year, cancer can claim the lives of almost 10 million people, which means that cancer causes nearly one in six deaths. Timely diagnosis is crucial if someone is to have a good chance of beating cancer. Unfortunately, cancer misdiagnoses are quite common in the United States of America. A cancer misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor delays diagnosing cancer or when they mistake the cancer for another disease, including another cancer. When a doctor misdiagnoses cancer, it denies the patient the opportunity to get proper treatment. A wrong or delayed diagnosis can allow the disease to spread, thus reducing a patient’s chances of survival. Additionally, a cancer misdiagnosis can lead to a patient receiving incorrect treatment.

All types of cancers can be misdiagnosed. However, some types of cancers are more frequently misdiagnosed than others. Understanding the types of cancers doctors most commonly misdiagnose can be helpful. This can enable you to be more vigilant. Below are some of the types of cancers that are most commonly misdiagnosed:

Breast Cancer

One of the most commonly misdiagnosed types of cancer is breast cancer. Often, this type of cancer is confused with fibrocystic breasts. This condition, now considered less harmful, involves painful, lumpy breasts. A doctor may also mistake breast cancer for mastitis when the patient is a breast-feeding mother. Mastitis, which sometimes involves an infection, causes pain, swelling, and redness in one or both breasts.

Unfortunately, research suggests that only 28% of patients survive for five years or more when breast cancer progresses to stage four. A breast cancer misdiagnosis can be deadly.


Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a group of tissues, vessels, and organs that protect you from infection. Because of its symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes, lymphoma can be confused with viral or bacterial infections.

Lung Cancer

Another type of cancer that is commonly misdiagnosed is lung cancer. Unfortunately, many patients are not diagnosed with lung cancer until the disease has progressed to the last stages. Lung cancer symptoms mimic those of other conditions. For example, a doctor may mistake shortness of breath from lung cancer for asthma. A chronic cough caused by lung cancer may be confused with something like bronchitis or pneumonia.

Skin Cancers

Often, skin cancer gets misdiagnosed as eczema. Some of the reasons a doctor may misdiagnose skin cancer include failing to recommend further testing, diagnosing a condition only based on family history, and not completing a full physical exam.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer has symptoms such as changes in bowel movements, pelvic pain, and bloating, which are symptoms a person can exhibit when having gastrointestinal issues. Ovarian cancer can be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome or another gastrointestinal condition.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer can be misdiagnosed as bladder cancer. It can also be misdiagnosed as prostatitis. Prostatitis is swelling of the prostate gland.

Legal Help Is Available

After a cancer misdiagnosis, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim and recover financial compensation. Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorney at Carroll Law Firm can help determine if you have a valid claim. If you do, we can help you file your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve.

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