As a patient, you put your health and your life in the hands of your doctors. If doctors do not treat you seriously or practice due diligence in diagnosing you, they can miss serious diagnoses like cancer.
As medical treatment advances, many cancer patients have a more positive prognosis than in the past. Unfortunately, when doctors fail to diagnose cancer promptly, it can result in serious consequences for the patient.
Delayed diagnosis results in delayed treatment
Most physicians understand that the earlier they diagnose most cancers, the easier it will be to treat them. Unfortunately, cancer symptoms can mimic symptoms of less serious disorders or illnesses. Cancer causes cells to grow uncontrollably, spreading to other areas of the body.
If the doctor sends you home without a cancer diagnosis, the cells may continue to spread and multiply within your body.
Delayed treatment increases the chance of mortality
A review of public studies revealed that delayed treatment in seven major cancers resulted in adverse consequences. A four-week delay increases the chance of patient mortality across all forms of cancer treatment, including radiation and surgery. The evidence supports a direct relationship between delay in treatment and control of the disease. Every four weeks that a doctor delays surgery can result in a 6 to 8% increase in mortality risk. For radiotherapy, every four weeks results in a 9 to 13% mortality risk increase.
Doctors need to take precautions not to misdiagnose a patient with cancer. Likewise, once a physician makes the diagnosis, he or she should take measures to follow through with treatment as quickly as possible.