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Pediatric brain tumors frequently misdiagnosed

Children in Hawai'i who have been diagnosed with brain cancer may have a reason for additional testing following discoveries made by research scientists. According to researchers, some children with rare pediatric brain tumors have been misdiagnosed with one type of cancer when they actually have another. Scientists found that when these tumors' molecular profiles were examined using newly developed technologies, they were found to be far different than they originally appeared. The type of tumor in question, called a CNS-PNET, was traditionally diagnosed based on where it was found in the brain as well as how it appeared under a microscope.

When these tumors were reexamined using the newer testing methodologies, called DNA methylation profiling, cancerous growths that had appeared the same under a microscope appeared strikingly different. Of 31 pediatric brain cancer patients participating in a clinical trial who were diagnosed with CNS-PNETs prior to the newer tests, 22 were found to have been misdiagnosed. Some of the children actually had supratentorial embryonal tumors, which had a much higher chance of survival with proper treatment. However, 18 of the kids were found to have glioblastomas, a severely aggressive form of cancer with a high fatality rate.

In either case, the treatment process for the patients would change based on receiving a correct diagnosis. Scientists urged pediatric brain cancer specialists to use the newer testing methods in order to ensure a correct diagnosis, and they recommended family members insist on receiving these tests.

When doctors fail to diagnose cancer or provide a misdiagnosis, the consequences can be devastating. As it is a progressive disease, cancer can become more severe without proper treatment. A medical malpractice attorney might consult with patients who have suffered worsened health conditions due to a medical mistake about the possibilities of pursuing legal action to seek compensation for their damages.

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