A PGIMER expert has proved that people often ignored symptoms of cancer resulting in delayed diagnosis and treatment. This lets the deadly disease spread silently.
The study said over 50% cancer patients wasted at least six months before starting treatment at a tertiary care hospital, which also adds two weeks of waiting to this period. In some cases, the delay was as long as two years.
According to the study, people from rural areas were more vulnerable than those in urban areas. The overall delay (two years) was highest for head and neck cancers.
The study was conducted by Dr Raviteja Miriyala, radiology department, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).
Doctors believe that many common cancers such as oral and cervical can be dealt with if detected at a pre-malignant stage.
“A large number of people report to us at an advanced stage (stage 3 to 4), when nothing much can be done. I come across several cases where lives could have been saved had the cancer been detected at an earlier stage,” said Dr Miriyala.
“If a cancer is treated at stage one to two, the chances of the patient’s survival goes up to 80%, whereas if the cancer is detected at stage 3 to 4, the chances reduce to 20%,” he said.
The doctor conducted the survey on 162 cancer patients.
DELAY AT PHCS
“It is surprising that many doctors posted at primary health centres (PHCs) are not wellversed with symptoms of cancer and at times continue to treat patients for other diseases,” said the doctor.
Once the cancer patient reaches the tertiary centre, the treatment does not start immediately. A person has to undergo series of tests, which takes a week to month’s time. The treatment depends upon the reports.