The survival rate of pancreatic cancer is among the worst, especially within the first year of diagnosis. This is because the symptoms are often very mild initially leading to the disease being misdiagnosed as a less serious condition and treatment not beginning until it has reached an advanced stage. A missed diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is very serious and dangerous for the patient involved as it means vital treatment is delayed.
Misdiagnosed pancreatic cancer often starts with the patients themselves dismissing the symptoms they are experiencing. Doctors can then believe that the signs are related to other conditions and, as a result, do not order the necessary tests in order to accurately diagnose a patient, leading to pancreatic cancer misdiagnosis.
There are several other conditions pancreatic cancer can be wrongly diagnosed as, including:
Pancreatic cancer diagnosed as diabetes
The pancreas is responsible to releasing insulin and other hormones into the bloodstream. When tumours grow it can affect this release and mimic the symptoms of diabetes, leading to a misdiagnosis initially.
Pancreatic cancer misdiagnosed as gallstones
Gallbladder disease is one of the most common conditions that pancreatic is misdiagnosed as. Symptoms can be similar, especially when the cancer is in the early stages. However, imaging scans and other tests to diagnose the condition should highlight that a mistake has been made.
Pancreatic cancer misdiagnosed as IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive condition that has some similar symptoms of pancreatic cancer, including abdominal pain, nausea, and bowel change. There is no test to diagnose IBS and it’s, instead, diagnosed by a process of elimination, which can mean pancreatic cancer is mislabelled as IBS if the necessary tests aren’t conducted.