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Lung cancer screenings may lead to misdiagnoses

Long-time smokers in Arizona who are on Medicare now have the option of getting tested for lung cancer once a year, according to an announcement Medicare made in February 2015. To qualify for a yearly spiral CT scan, Medicare recipients must be between 55 and 77 years old and have smoked about one pack of cigarettes every day for at least 30 years.

Although some medical professionals argue that lung cancer screenings will save lives, others are warning about the dangers of false positives and the harm that could be caused by unnecessary tests. One primary care physician said that spiral CT scans often identify slow-growing cancers and other abnormal growths that never actually become dangerous. When patients are given follow-up tests like biopsies, they could experience complications from those tests including collapsed lungs.

A 2011 study showed that the use of spiral CT scans could lead to a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths. However, other statistics show that for every 1,000 patients tested for lung cancer, 233 will have persistent false positives. The risk of excessive testing and unnecessary cancer treatments could make some patients choose not to undergo a spiral CT scan. Others may feel that getting tested for lung cancer is worth the risk.

A patient who has been misdiagnosed with cancer after undergoing a spiral CT scan might be able to file a medical malpractice claim. If doctor errors and unnecessary procedures caused the patient to suffer complications, an attorney might be able to help the patient to pursue financial compensation for the damages that have been sustained. Many injured patients pursue reimbursement for their added medical expenses and loss of earning capacity.

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