Kidney stones and kidney cancer are two distinct medical conditions. However, they share some similar symptoms, which can lead to the misdiagnosis of kidney cancer as kidney stones.
When doctors fail to identify kidney cancer promptly, it can have a serious impact on a patient’s prognosis.
Reasons for misdiagnosis
Both kidney stones and kidney cancer can cause pain in the lower back, sides or abdomen. This pain can be sudden and severe. Hematuria, or blood in the urine, can also be a symptom of both kidney stones and kidney cancer. Changes in urination patterns, such as increased frequency or urgency, are also common among patients with both conditions, and both conditions can also cause nausea and vomiting, further complicating diagnosis.
Kidney stones are also relatively common, so healthcare providers may initially suspect this more common condition when patients present with symptoms.
Consequences of misdiagnosis
Accurate diagnosis is important because kidney stones and kidney cancer require very different treatments. Kidney stones may pass on their own. Patients with kidney stones may also be able to take medication or undergo minimally invasive procedures to get rid of them. On the other hand, kidney cancer usually necessitates surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, depending on the stage and type of cancer. The longer cancer progresses without intervention, the higher the chances of it proving fatal.
Per Medical News Today, a study of patients with kidney cancer revealed that 45% of them initially received the wrong diagnosis. To improve diagnostic accuracy, medical professionals must consider additional tests, particularly when symptoms persist or present in an atypical manner.