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One case of cancer misdiagnosis highlights larger problem

On Behalf of | May 4, 2021 | Doctor Errors |

Most cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits are the result of a health professional’s failure to correctly diagnose cancer when a patient has symptoms attributed to another condition. Less often talked about, but alarmingly also common, is when a patient undergoes aggressive radiation or chemotherapy treatment for a condition that later proves to have been an incorrect diagnosis of cancer.

Such was the subject of a recent article, which describes the shock at recently being contacted by a neuropathologist whose research on the rare cancer with which Henigson had been diagnosed as a teenager suggested that it had been an incorrect diagnosis.

In his 38-year career, Schwarz had only encountered three cancer patients with the same rare cancer tissue discovered in Hengison’s brain tissue, anaplastic astrocytomas, who had survived beyond the expected life expectancy. Schwarz revealed that two of them had been misdiagnosed.

Causes of a false cancer diagnosis

According to the National Law Review, approximately 12 million people are affected by misdiagnosis every year, and 40,000 to 80,000 fatalities result from the complications that result from the misdiagnosis. Cancer is one of the conditions most often misdiagnosed, with incorrect diagnoses of up to 61% for some types of cancer. There are many causes for this, including:

  • a false positive on a cancer screening
  • overly sensitive screening technology, especially for breast tumors
  • unspecialized specialists
  • intentional misdiagnosis of cancer, often resulting in insurance fraud claims

Side effects of cancer treatment

The list of adverse side effects to cancer treatments is long, and when they are unnecessary treatments, they can become chronic and debilitating conditions:

  • hair loss, fatigue, pain, nerve problems
  • gastrointestinal, urinary or bladder problems
  • trouble with memory or concentration, delirium or sleep problems
  • anemia, skin and nail changes, infection and fertility problems

Sadly for Henigson, the California statute of limitations to file a claim is long expired. The cancer misdiagnosis that led to aggressive radiation and chemo treatments 35 years ago most probably damaged his vision, hearing, lungs and hormones, leaving scar tissue on his brain that has likely contributed to his epilepsy.

For Oregon residents who have been affected by errors in diagnosis, an experienced and effective legal advocate serving the Lake Oswego area will protect your rights and help you fight back against the effects of diagnostic errors.



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