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Study shows pediatric brain cancer often misdiagnosed

Pediatric brain cancer can be a terrifying diagnosis for anyone in Iowa. However, what could be even more disturbing is the likelihood of misdiagnosis for certain kinds of brain tumors in children. According to one study, kids with rare tumors have frequently received incorrect diagnoses. As a result, some patients may receive the wrong treatment and get ineffective medical action.

Researchers have found that some brain tumors look identical under a microscope but have far different molecular profiles. They urge doctors to use newer tests, called DNA methylation profiling, to avoid misdiagnoses when identifying brain cancer in pediatric patients. They also urge families to push for the use of these more accurate tests in diagnosing their children. The type of tumors involved in the study -- called CNS-PNETs -- are diagnosed based on where they are in the brain and the cell appearance under a microscope. However, the scientists discovered that their appearances can be deceptive.

Out of 31 patients on a clinical trial who had been diagnosed with CNS-PNET, 22 were found to have other cancers. These misdiagnosed patients never should have been part of the clinical trial. Some patients actually had supratentorial embryonic tumors, who have a much higher chance of survival with appropriate treatment. On the other hand, 18 children actually had glioblastomas, severely aggressive tumors that are nearly always fatal. In either case, their treatment should reflect a correct diagnosis.

When a doctor fails to diagnose cancer or provides an incorrect diagnosis, the consequences can be devastating. A medical malpractice attorney can consult with a patient who has suffered serious health consequences after a medical mistake about the potential to take legal action.

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