Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Six of the Most Misdiagnosed Illnesses ; Whether They're Tricky to Test for, or Have Symptoms That Mimic Other Conditions, Some Illnesses Are More Likely to Go Undetected for Years, or Be Passed off as Something Else. LISA SALMON Reveals Some Common Culprits

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Six of the Most Misdiagnosed Illnesses ; Whether They're Tricky to Test for, or Have Symptoms That Mimic Other Conditions, Some Illnesses Are More Likely to Go Undetected for Years, or Be Passed off as Something Else. LISA SALMON Reveals Some Common Culprits

Article excerpt

SOMETIMES, getting a diagnosis when you're unwell is simple: you make an appointment, see a doctor, possibly have a straightforward test, then wait for the results - and the vast majority of the time, patients are correctly diagnosed by medical professionals.

But this isn't always the case.

Some conditions have symptoms that mimic other problems, or which can be very vague and inconsistent.

Also, there are not always straightforward tests available, which can make determining a diagnosis far more complex - or, if a condition is especially rare, it might only be considered once everything else has been ruled out.

Here are six illnesses that can be harder to spot in initial medical consultations...

CERTAIN CANCERS A 2011 Rarer Cancers Foundation study found that a quarter of cancer patients were only diagnosed once the disease had spread, with many having been initially sent home by their GPs, who dismissed the symptoms as something less serious - although misdiagnosed cancers often include the more common types, like breast, colorectal, lung and pancreatic cancer.

These might be misdiagnosed because symptoms often mimic other, non-cancerous conditions - inflammatory breast cancer, for example, has similar symptoms to mastitis; colorectal cancer may be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or ulcerative colitis; lung cancer symptoms can be similar to those caused by pneumonia, bronchitis and tuberculosis; and pancreatic cancer can be confused with inflammatory bowel diseases, pancreatitis and diabetes.

PARKINSON'S DISEASE THE symptoms of this degenerative disorder of the central nervous system include tremors, stiff muscles and problems with balance or walking.

It can be mistaken for Alzheimer's disease, stroke, stress, or even a head injury, as there are no simple lab tests that can diagnose Parkinson's.

COELIAC DISEASE CAUSED by an inability to digest gluten, which can start suddenly, this digestive disorder can result in abdominal pain, headaches, joint pain, itchy skin, diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss, although sometimes symptoms can be mild.

While a blood test can diagnose coeliac disease, it's often mistaken for other conditions, including IBS, diverticulitis, intestinal infections and chronic fatigue syndrome, because the symptoms can be very similar and, in some cases, identical.

However, correctly diagnosing coeliac disease is crucial because if a strict gluten-free diet isn't followed, serious long-term Fatigue is a common symptom of lupus, but the disease is notoriously tricky to diagnose complications can occur.

LUPUS FATIGUE, rashes and joint pain are some of the common symptoms of this autoimmune disease, that can affect almost any part of the body, including organs like the heart and kidneys, in severe cases.

Although blood and urine tests can indicate lupus, such tests are not always conclusive, and it's sometimes misdiagnosed as things like arthritis or fibromyalgia, or even dismissed entirely for years. …

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