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Realistic expectations of cancer patients may improve outcomes

While doctors do their best to properly diagnose their patients, misdiagnoses of cancer are fairly common in Ohio and around the country. A study found that doctors themselves thought the misdiagnosis rate for cancer was no higher than 10 percent, while another study found that incorrect information regarding cancer diagnoses is given 28 percent of the time. Some types of cancers, such as breast cancer and lung cancer, are particularly more likely to be misdiagnosed.

Other studies have looked at the effect that information given to cancer patients about their conditions has on their outcome. Patients who were given details about possible side effects of their cancer were 35 percent less likely to have a positive outcome. Patients who became depressed had more negative outcomes, but an optimistic outlook did not result in better outcomes. The people with the best outcomes were the people with a realistic view of their prognosis.

These studies suggest that the key is to give cancer patients enough information about their condition, but not too much. Of course, the line between too much and just enough is narrow and varies from patient to patient. The study results do point out the importance of getting the right diagnosis from the right doctor.

Because of the relatively high rate of misdiagnosis of certain types of cancer, a person who has been diagnosed with that disease may want to seek a second opinion. Conversely, a patient who has been harmed by a failure to diagnose cancer and whose condition has worsened as a result may want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney in order to determine whether there are remedies available to seek compensation for the losses that have been sustained.

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