Multiple Myeloma

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Misdiagnoses After a Doctor Misses Multiple Myeloma

Dr. Nina Shah UCSF Medical Center

It’s important to say that in the vast majority of cases when you are tired, or have back pain, you do not have cancer. Even so, many of us in the SurvivorNet community have heard the stories about people who go to the doctor for a common problem and have a misdiagnoses after a doctor misses multiple myeloma. It has been reported that former NBC News anchorman Tom Brokaw, who has multiple myeloma, was initially misdiagnosed when his back pain was believed to be arthritis. In some cases patients may just report pain in different parts of their body.

According to SurvivorNet advisor Dr. Nina Shah a hematologist from UCSF, “Multiple myeloma can be hard to diagnose because sometimes the symptoms are ‘non specific.’ It’s common for someone to say ‘You know, I’ve been having this back pain and I’ve always had but somehow, it’s just not going away.’ You may go to your primary doctor with these complaints, and it’s not unreasonable for that doctor to watch and wait or to do a few X rays and maybe not find anything.”

“At the first sign of anything abnormal in the blood or abnormal fracture, it’s important to say ‘okay, what am I missing? Is there something else maybe that could be causing this?’ And that’s often when we see a diagnosis of multiple myeloma,” says Dr. Shah.

The key here is to keep pushing until you feel 100% comfortable that your symptoms have been explained and taken care of properly.

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Dr. Nina Shah is a hematologist who specializes in the treatment of multiple myeloma, a type of cancer affecting the blood marrow. She treats patients at the Hematology and Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinic. Read More