Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and early diagnosis can make a big difference in treatment outcomes. Unfortunately, some types of cancer in women often go misdiagnosed or undetected until they reach advanced stages. These misdiagnoses can delay the necessary treatments and dramatically affect prognosis.
It is essential for you to be aware of these commonly misdiagnosed cancers, so you can advocate for your health or the health of loved ones.
The PA Breast Cancer Coalition reported that doctors diagnose over 13,000 women in Pennsylvania with breast cancer each year. While breast cancer awareness campaigns have increased over the years, misdiagnoses still occur. Atypical symptoms, especially in younger women, can lead to an oversight. Instead of lumps, symptoms might present as skin changes or pain, leading medical professionals to dismiss concerns or mistake them for infections or cysts.
Ovarian cancer often gets misdiagnosed due to its vague symptoms, which can resemble other conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections or even menopause. Doctors can easily attribute symptoms such as bloating, pelvic pain and frequent urination to less severe conditions, leading to delayed diagnosis.
Endometrial (uterine) cancer
Endometrial cancer affects the lining of the uterus and can present symptoms similar to those of other conditions. Irregular bleeding or spotting might be mistaken for hormonal imbalances, polycystic ovary syndrome or fibroids.
The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, can develop cancerous growths that often go undetected. Symptoms such as fatigue, hoarseness and swollen lymph nodes can lead to diagnoses of viral infections or other throat-related conditions.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. Its symptoms, like fatigue, fever and swollen lymph nodes, can mimic those of common viral infections, leading many to believe they are merely battling a persistent cold or flu.
While medical advancements continue to improve early cancer detection, misdiagnoses still happen. Awareness of these commonly overlooked cancers in women can prompt more rigorous testing and early interventions. Remember always to trust your instincts about your body. If you believe something is amiss, do not hesitate to seek a second opinion or additional tests.