Common prostate cancer tests could be underestimating the disease, according a new British study.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have suggested that the tests meant to show the stage and severity of the cancer were misdiagnosing cancers as ‘slow growing.’ This could be of major concern for thousands of men across NSW who undergo the tests daily and potentially could attract medical negligence claims.
The study, which has been published in the British Journal of Cancer, compared the ‘staging and grading of cancer’ in more than 800 men both before and after they underwent surgery to remove their prostate.
In 415 men whose cancer was regarded as ‘slow growing’ and only present in the prostate before the operation, the cancer was found to be much more aggressive than first thought in half of patients and had spread further than initially speculated in nearly one-third of subjects.
Greg Shaw, a urological surgeon and one of the study authors based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said up to 50 per cent of prostate cancers could have been underestimated and this is of major concern.
“This highlights the urgent need for better tests to define how aggressive a prostate cancer is from the outset, building on diagnostic tests like MRI scans, and new biopsy techniques which help to more accurately define the extent of the prostate cancer,” he said.
“This would then enable us to counsel patients with more certainty whether the prostate cancer identified is suitable for active surveillance or not.”
According to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, prostate cancer accounts for around 30 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in Australian men each year.
The institute estimates around 120,000 men in Australia are currently suffering with the cancer and that number will rise to 267,000 by 2017.
Cancer Research UK’s prostate expert Professor Malcolm Mason said medical treatments need improving to avoid misdiagnosing the severity of the disease.
“But we need better methods of assigning a grade and stage so that no man has to unnecessarily undergo treatment, while at the same time making sure we detect and treat the cancers that really need it.”
Medical negligence in NSW
As tests such as the ones done for prostate cancer are commonly performed worldwide, men in NSW who are possibly misdiagnosed could be eligible for medical compensation.
If you are suffering from an illness and believe a medical practitioner may have breached their duty of care with diagnosing the severity of your condition, get in touch with medical negligence lawyers today.