When you have a serious medical condition like cancer, your odds of making a full recovery vary based on when doctors identify your condition. When cancer goes undetected, it may metastasize to other parts of the body, at which point it may become harder to manage and treat.
According to Medical News Today, misdiagnosis of kidney cancer is particularly common, with many doctors mistakenly leading kidney cancer patients to believe they have kidney stones. Part of the problem with misdiagnosing kidney cancer lies in the fact that many patients with the disease do not produce symptoms until the cancer has progressed.
Why misdiagnosis of kidney cancer occurs
Certain symptoms, including fatigue, lower back pain, fever and blood in urine, are common in patients with both kidney cancer and kidney stones. For this reason, many doctors initially misdiagnose kidney cancer as kidney stones. The symptoms outlined above are also common among patients with several other types of cancer, including bladder and colorectal cancers.
How often misdiagnosis of kidney cancer occurs
According to one study, close to half, or 45%, of patients with kidney cancer received an incorrect medical diagnosis when they initially visited their physicians. Of those patients who received inaccurate medical diagnoses, 6% had their doctors diagnose them as having kidney stones. Another 11% of those who wound up having kidney cancer had their doctors first diagnose them as having urine infections.
Because misdiagnosis does happen, and because it has the potential to have a serious impact on your prognosis, it is wise to get a second doctor’s opinion anytime a doctor gives you a serious medical diagnosis.