Misdiagnosing Cancer in Children: Why it Happens

Cancer Misdiagnosis, Misdiagnosis

It is scary when anyone is diagnosed with cancer, even if it is treatable, localized, or non-threatening.  But it is tragic when that person is a young children.  When young children are diagnosed with cancer, it is like their life is being stolen from them.  Their children will change, even if they successful fight off the cancer, they will forego playdates with friends for chemo, and ice cream parties will be radiation appointments.  School could become a dangerous place, particularly when other children are sick during cold and flu season.  The only thing scarier is misdiagnosing cancer in children.

Cancer in children is also scary and tragic because a lot of times it is misdiagnosed.  The truth is, cancer in children is very rare.  Very rare.  Some primary care physicians and pediatricians may go their entire career without seeing a case of cancer in a young patient.  Generally when the symptoms of cancer do manifest themselves, there are serious complications which warrant the child going to the hospital or a specialist and not to a primary care physician.  Because of this, it is much more likely that a case of cancer is misdiagnosed by a primary care physician.

Many childhood cancers also have the same symptoms of simply growing up.  One is called a Ewing sarcoma, which is a tumor in a bone, usually a large bone like the femur or humerus.  The symptoms fo this tumor are bruising of the skin (like a bump playing), swelling (playing), or redness (playing).  Pain may be mild and not likely to even draw the attention of the child, especially a busy and active child.  But when misdiagnosed or there is even a small delay in diagnosis, it is fatal.

Other cancers such as lumps or bumps could be easily missed.  Some conditions affecting organs, like kidney tumors, could just be common with childhood colds and aches or pains.  This makes childhood cancers more deadly when a doctor does not refer questionable symptoms to a specialists, or when a doctor does not consider all of the patient’s symptoms seriously.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com.  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.