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Rare disease patients face frequent misdiagnosis

People in New Jersey with rare diseases may face an especially high risk of misdiagnosis and incorrect, sometimes dangerous, treatment. There are around 400 million people around the world affected by so-called rare diseases. In the United States, when 200,000 people or less are affected by a condition each year, it is considered "rare." As a result, these uncommon illnesses may have relatively little funds invested in research or pharmaceutical development. Furthermore, doctors may be unlikely to consider these illnesses when making a diagnosis.

One rare disease that is commonly misdiagnosed is mesothelioma. This form of cancer is usually related to asbestos exposure. While 50 percent of rare disease patients are minor children, mesothelioma usually affects people later in life, often decades after the original exposure to asbestos. Every year, there are around 3,000 new cases discovered across the country. In many cases, people with mesothelioma are originally diagnosed with asthma, pneumonia or even a common respiratory virus. Of course, the failure to diagnose cancer can be especially serious. Because it is a progressive disease, even a correct diagnosis later on may not allow time for adequate treatment.

Gallbladder cancer is another rare and often-misdiagnosed malignancy. It is often initially diagnosed as less serious, more easily treatable gallbladder diseases. Because it does not cause many unique symptoms, patients are often diagnosed only when the cancer has reached a very late stage.

Doctor errors can lead to serious effects for patients, especially if a disease progresses to a terminal point due to misdiagnosis. A patient who has suffered because of a health care mistake can consult with an attorney about the potential to seek compensation.

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