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Apr 21, 2008

Disease Doctor's Often Miss

When you receive a diagnosis from your doctor, chances are, you believe it. After all, physicians are medical experts who've seen hundreds, if not thousands, of patients with symptoms just like yours. But doctors also make mistakes. In fact, they misdiagnose millions of patients every year—a problem that can result in serious health complications and even death.

Overlooked DiseasesCertain diseases can be hard to diagnose or may manifest themselves differently from patient to patient. Here are three that your doctor might miss.

Cancer. Being diagnosed with cancer can be terrifying, but not being diagnosed if you have it is far worse. A Harvard study found that cancer, primarily the breast and colorectal types, is the most commonly misdiagnosed disease, and experts say this is due to doctors failing to stick to screening guidelines.
Infection. The same Harvard study found that infection was the second most misdiagnosed condition, in part because many infections share symptoms that are similar to those of other conditions. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed forms include ear infection, yeast infection, sinus infection, and pertussis infection (whooping cough).
Aortic dissection. With this potentially life-threatening condition, there is bleeding into and along the wall of the aorta, the major artery leaving the heart. But the disease frequently gets misdiagnosed as heartburn because of sensations felt in the chest.