Monday, June 9, 2008

Teens and young adults may wait longer for cancer diagnosis

Here's a frightening thought: if you're a teen or a young adult and you have the signs and symptoms of cancer, you may have to wait longer before being diagnosed than a younger child or an adult.

According to this press release, Teenagers and young adults with cancer can face long delays before finally being diagnosed, "out of 207 young people with cancer who took part in an interactive survey, four out five sought medical help very quickly and only seven per cent delayed for a matter of months. Approximately half of the patients with Hodgkin lymphoma, brain and bone cancers had to visit their general practitioner (GP) four or more times before they were referred to a specialist."

The release goes on to say: "It would appear that when we compare these data with studies of children with cancer, teenagers and young adults do face greater delays in diagnosis, particularly for bone and brain tumours and Hodgkin lymphoma. In our studies the professional interval has always been longer than patient symptom interval. There appears to be delay at primary, secondary and tertiary care levels. Interventions are being explored, both to educate the public, and young people in particular, to seek help for worrying symptoms and to empower them to push for referral to specialists. However, it would seem to be more important to raise awareness amongst professionals to recognise worrying signs and to trigger them to be more rapid in their response; in addition, they need to ensure simple and rapid referral pathways for investigation and subsequent treatment. Whether this will improve survival remains unclear but it will reduce anxiety, anger and distrust of doctors."

Is it because the teens and young adults aren't believed when they present with their complaints? Or is it because the medical community doesn't want to think of teens and young adults having a disease like cancer?

What do you think? Have you had any experience with this sort of thing?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I discovered a lump in my neck in early July 2006 and wasn't diagnosed until October...a 3 month wait. I didn't begin treatment until November and my staging scans were delayed by hospitals refusing to schedule me because the state wouldn't approve me for medical assistance. They said I was denied because I wasn't pregnant and didn't have children. I was 23 at the time.