The diagnosis of any major illness is a complex process. It starts with symptoms experienced by the victim, followed by a pre-diagnosis processes that include self-help options and visiting a local health practitioner, and finally getting an actual diagnosis. If the matter concerns a normal allergy or a harmless cough, it’s alright to take it easy. However, if the victim is under a threat of a more serious disease, like cancer, the delay in diagnosis itself could be deadly.
Cancer is a deadly disease that claims the lives of many every year. The cancer mortality rate is unbelievably high in all countries as compared to deaths by other major diseases. There are various types of cancers and it is imperative to get a timely diagnosis in order for doctors to be able to cure the patient. Cancers have stages as well. If a patient is diagnosed as being infected with the initial stages of cancer, there is a possibility to control or cure the disease completely. However, in the later stages, doctors come across a lot more challenges that are difficult to control and sometimes impossible to overcome. Hence, it’s said that the timely diagnosis of cancer is just as important as the actual cure.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why the diagnosis of cancer is usually delayed and how this delay adversely affects the treatment opportunities.
It’s a rare practice for people to visit the doctor as soon as they experience any kind of uneasiness or discomfort. This could involve a rise in temperature, dehydration, nausea, internal pain or any malignant growth. Such symptoms are linked to normal illnesses and are ignored. This is where an opportunity goes amiss. However, if the symptoms persist, we understand the possibility of a problem and visit a doctor. The doctor may not be able to diagnose the problem immediately, possibly due to incomplete information provided by the patient or similar symptoms to other general illnesses, and may prescribe drugs. Here is where the second missed opportunity occurs. This causes another delay. You go ahead with the doctor’s advice and take the prescribed medication. After a while you realize that the medication is not working. You also notice that instead of feeling better, your health is continuing to deteriorate. It’s at this time that you notice the symptoms getting stronger or more obvious. This is when you go to the hospital for a more thorough diagnosis. There has now been a significant delay since the first moment you noticed that something was wrong, to the time the test results arrive. This time of delay varies from patient to patient. In some cases the delay may be just a few days or weeks, which is still acceptable. But in some cases, the delay is months or even years and this shortens the possibilities of a successful treatment.
There is a direct ratio between diagnosing cancer and actually curing it. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the higher the possibility of a complete cure. Diagnosing cancer in its early stages gives time for doctors to eradicate it from your body through surgery, drugs or chemotherapy. Also, cancer in its early stages tends to be docile and reacts positively to drugs. However, with the delayed diagnosis of cancer, the disease has had enough time to grow or spread and it gets harder to control it with drugs or surgery.
Timely Diagnosis is Synonymous with Better Psychological Adjustment
Cancer victims experience uncontrollable levels of anxiety and stress. The excessive medications, treatments and therapies tend to have an adverse effect on their psychological adjustment. Timely diagnosis greatly contributes to the reduced levels of medical treatment and therapies, thus reducing the stress and anxiety levels and simultaneously improving the patient’s psychological adjustment.
In short, a timely diagnosis of cancer is a matter of life and death. Literally!