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Study identifies issue with prostate cancer test

Prostate-specific membrane antigen positron emission tomography testing is often used to determine what stage of prostate cancer a person is in, but for some patients in Florida and throughout the country, this could be misdiagnosed. PSMA PET scans look for the enzyme PSMA in tissue since it is expressive in prostate cancer cells. However, this may also occur in benign tissue.

A study that appeared in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine involved more than 400 patients and examined PSMA-ligand uptake. While researchers cautioned that this expressiveness could lead to a misdiagnosis, they also did not recommend that medical professionals should stop using the test. Instead, they said when the results are analyzed, there should also be configuration and localization so that benign results can be distinguished from metastasis.

The misdiagnosis of the stage of a person's prostate cancer could lead to unnecessary treatments. This carries the potential of both psychological and physical harm to the patient.

When it comes to diagnostic testing, doctors must strike a balance between the potential errors or side effects that accompany that testing and neglecting to adequately explore a patient's symptoms. The legal system recognizes this and applies a standard for medical malpractice that involves assessing whether the patient has received the requisite standard of care. Therefore, since researchers are only beginning to study the prevalence of false positives with PSMA PET scans, this type of error might not necessarily be considered medical malpractice. However, if more accurate test results are misread or a doctor fails to pursue a diagnosis that is consistent with a patient's symptoms, this could be medical malpractice. People who believe they or their loved ones have suffered as a result of medical malpractice might want to consult an attorney about how to proceed.

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