A cancer diagnosis is always difficult to hear, but it's even worse if you find out that your symptoms could have been spotted sooner. The best chances you have of beating any type of cancer come early in the disease.
Unfortunately, delays in cancer diagnoses are still a common problem, although researchers have begun to ask what can be done about the issue. There are some suggestions for patients to protect themselves. These are based on what cancer researchers found after talking to a number of doctors.
Educate yourself about cancer's symptoms
One of the main causes of a delayed diagnosis is actually due to a lack of patient education. Many people simply don't know the signs of cancer when they see them, and they'll dismiss a problem condition for far too long.
You can best protect yourself from a delayed diagnosis simply by being informed. If something unusual is happening to your body, start investigating the possible causes immediately using online sources, and don't be quick to dismiss anything until a doctor has seen you.
Insist on a prompt referral to a specialist
If your general practitioner thinks you should see a specialist or have a test to rule out a cancer diagnosis, don't patiently wait around for weeks for the office staff to get it scheduled. Push for a rush appointment and insist on timely action on your behalf.
Do your own legwork to assure continuity
If you see a specialist or your doctor orders testing, it won't do you any good unless the results of that visit end up back in your doctor's hands. You can't count on your doctor, who has hundreds of patients every week through his or her door, to remember to look for the report. Ask the specialist or hospital to provide you with a copy of the report and deliver it in person to your doctor's office for review.
Ditch your doctor if you aren't being given full exams
Finally, your doctor can't give you a cancer diagnosis if he or she is too rushed to give you a proper exam. If your doctor can't take the time to fully address your health issues and questions, find a new one.
A delayed diagnosis of cancer is one of the most serious avoidable injuries you can suffer, so you owe it to yourself to do everything you can to avoid it.