Mesothelioma misdiagnosis

Posted on Friday, May 27th, 2016 at 1:34 pm    

Female doctor explaining diagnosis to her female patient

Mesothelioma misdiagnosis is not uncommon. These occur when doctors without experience with mesothelioma deal with a patient with the illness. The main problems with misdiagnosis is it delays treatment and access to clinical trials and has a negative impact on the patient’s survival and wellbeing. Misdiagnosis occurs because malignant mesothelioma is a rare disease thus diagnosis requires an experienced specialist.

Mesothelioma Misdiagnosis: Common misdiagnosis

Many of the early symptoms of mesothelioma mimic symptoms of less serious illnesses and can be dismissed as such. Some examples of symptoms that can cause misdiagnosis are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Chest discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent cough
  • Nausea
  • Night sweats

Some patients with pleural mesothelioma are told that they have pneumonia or asthma as an initial diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Misdiagnosis: Factors

Complex cancer

The asbestos-related cancer is complex and there are many variables involved in diagnosis. Further, with symptoms mimicking other illnesses misdiagnosis is common.


Symptoms play a major role in diagnosing any illness. However, misreading symptoms is easy if the oncologist is not familiar with the disease. When misdiagnosis happens it delays the right diagnosis and right treatment which all impact the patient negatively and have a direct impact on his or her survival.

Cell type

There are various cancers and each cancer has its own distinctive cell type. Therefore, even if the cancer is diagnosed the type of mesothelioma cells vary. As a result this can also cause misdiagnosis; for example, pleural mesothelioma can be misdiagnosed as lung cancer. Such misdiagnosis directly affects the patient’s survival chances as they do not receive the right treatment.


In previous articles different mesothelioma staging was discussed. It is possible for a doctor to misjudge the stages of the cancer as there is no universal way of staging all types of cancer. Pleural mesothelioma is the only type of cancer with a universal staging system, however, without a specialist, stages can be misinterpreted.

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