Imagine this scenario — you've been diagnosed with cancer of the prostrate. You're lying on a gurney about to be wheeled into the operating room to have your prostate excised. The sedative is already flowing in your veins from the IV drip.
Just before you are taken from your room for the operation, your surgeon gets a call from the hospital's pathology department. A review of the slides from the biopsy revealed there was no sign of cancer.
Certainly, it's a welcome reprieve. Good news is always welcome, right? But could the good news have come too late?
Not everyone reacts to a cancer diagnosis well. Dependent upon the type and stage of the cancer, as well as emotional, physical and psychological factors inherent to the patients themselves, getting such news can be traumatizing. Some patients may be so afraid of their prognoses that they wind up taking their own lives, only to have their survivors learn after autopsies that there was never any cancer.
With over a million people per year in the United States being diagnosed with cancer, it's inevitable that some will be misdiagnosed. Pathologists study lab results of suspicious tissue samples when making their diagnoses without ever interacting with the patients receiving the diagnoses, which is standard.
However, a study was done at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital. Researchers reviewed 6,000 tissue samples from cancer patients and discovered that one out of each 71 samples was misdiagnosed, e.g., biopsies listed as malignant when they were benign.
Then, too, doctors can misinterpret results, reporting that the cancer has spread farther than it actually has. Not only could this adversely affect a patient's morale, it could limit the treatment options presented to the patient by his or her physicians.
Some advanced cancers are not generally treated surgically. Instead of an operation to excise the cancer that can be removed and rounds of chemo or radiation to eradicate the cells that remain, the misdiagnosed patient could be treated far more conservatively, thus allowing the cancerous cells to replicate and metastasize.
Was your cancer misdiagnosed? You may need to file a civil suit in the Georgia courts to recover any losses and damages.