When you feel unlike yourself, you may count on your doctor to determine what is wrong with you and what you need to do to feel better. However, a doctor’s ability to help make you feel better depends on his or her ability to make a correct diagnosis in the first place. Pancreatic cancer is among the more difficult types of cancer to diagnose. However, when doctors fail to diagnose pancreatic cancer, the repercussions may prove deadly.
According to Johns Hopkins Hospital, the long-term prognosis for a pancreatic cancer patient depends on several different factors. These factors include the tumor’s size and type, whether the cancer has spread and whether physicians identified it on time.
Problems associated with diagnosing pancreatic cancer patients
Diagnosing pancreatic cancer is difficult because many of the symptoms associated with the disease do not become apparent until it has already progressed or metastasized. Estimates suggest that as many as 80% of patients who receive pancreatic cancer diagnoses do so once they are already in a late stage of the disease. Often, doctors misdiagnose pancreatic cancer patients as having gallstones, pancreatitis, heartburn or ulcers, among other conditions.
Repercussions of incorrect pancreatic cancer diagnoses
The sooner a doctor catches your cancer, the better your prognosis may be. When doctors catch pancreatic cancer early, you may have the option of undergoing surgery to remove it. Once the cancer moves to other parts of the body, you may have limited options. You may be able to undergo chemotherapy or radiation in an effort to become a stronger candidate for surgery, or you may have few options available to you.
Your doctor’s ability to diagnose you properly may mean the difference between you succumbing to your disease within a few months or undergoing treatments that may allow you to live a longer, relatively normal life.