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Why do cases of lung cancer go misdiagnosed?

Lung cancer is a serious diagnosis that may require chemotherapy, surgery or other treatments. The sooner this diagnosis can be made, the better it is for the person with this condition.

Unfortunately, the misdiagnosis of lung cancer is a frequent issue. This is because lung cancer may share some common symptoms with colds, bronchitis, pneumonia and other lung conditions.

For example, some common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Discomfort in the chest

When detected early, lung cancer is often successfully treated. Sometimes, it can even be cured. When it goes undiagnosed, it could mean that a patient goes without the treatment they need. The cancer may progress and spread, ultimately making it harder to treat.

Only 16% of lung cancers are identified in the early stages

Since only 16% of cases are caught early, that means that patients with lung cancer are more likely to need invasive, disruptive treatments than those who have their conditions caught early.

While some people believe that lung cancer is as deadly as it is because it’s so common, the reality is that it is among the deadliest cancers because it’s harder to examine the lungs. Symptoms may also not present until the cancer has spread significantly.

What changes are being made to help identify lung cancer sooner?

Studies looking into ways to detect lung cancer sooner have found that low-dose computerized tomography (CT) scans may help detect lung cancer in the earlier stages. This kind of screening could be used for those at a high risk of cancer, such as those who used to smoke or who have a family history of lung cancer.

Research is also being done to find out why some kinds of cancer are resistant to chemotherapy, so patients have more options once cancer is identified.

If lung cancer is a possibility, tests should be run

It’s important for your medical provider to seek more information if you have symptoms that aren’t clearing up. They should request tests, like CT scans, to determine if lung cancer could be the cause of the symptoms that are bothering you. A failure to diagnose these symptoms could lead to serious consequences.