Congressman pushes bill to reduce prostate cancer misdiagnoses

Each year, many men in Ohio and across the U.S. are misdiagnosed with prostate cancer due to false positive biopsy results. Because of this, an Indiana congressman is sponsoring a bill that could reduce the problem.

According to Rep. Larry Bucshon, who is a cardiac surgeon, 1.3 percent of patients who receive positive prostate cancer biopsy results do not actually have the disease. This happens because their biopsy test has been subjected to a specimen mix-up, cross-contamination of tissue or another form of human error. These can all cause a false positive result. When this occurs, it is known as a specimen provenance complication.

To address the issue, Bucshon is pushing for the Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis Elimination Act of 2017. The bill would make Medicare cover the lab costs of DNA testing that cross-matches a patient's biopsy tissue with cells swabbed from their cheek, reducing the risk of false positives. Currently, Medicare covers the cost of biopsies, but it does not cover comparative DNA testing, which costs around $200. In 2016, the government insurer covered 148,000 prostate cancer biopsies. Health care experts concur that DNA testing would cut down on prostate cancer false positives, but it will not entirely eliminate misdiagnoses of the disease. This is because around 2 percent of cases are misdiagnosed due to pathologist misinterpretation errors.

A false positive cancer result can cause a misdiagnosed patient to undergo needless medical treatments, rack up expensive medical bills and experience mental anguish. When this happens, it may be advisable for the patient to file a medical malpractice suit against the doctor or lab responsible for the error. For more information, a patient could discuss their case with a medical malpractice injury lawyer.

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