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WHO says delayed cancer diagnosis killing millions

North Carolina residents may be saddened to learn that delayed diagnosis is causing millions of needless cancer deaths worldwide, according to a report by the World Health Organization. The report was released on Feb. 3 as a prelude to World Cancer Day on Feb. 4.

According to WHO, late cancer diagnosis limits treatment options and "condemns" millions of people to unnecessary suffering and premature death. The organization says early diagnosis is key for a cancer patient's chances of survival, particularly those with breast, cervical and colorectal cancers. Prompt diagnosis also cuts the cost of medical care, as early-stage treatments are cheaper than late-stage ones. The report says that poorer countries have the most problems with delayed diagnosis due to a lack of diagnostic services like imaging, laboratory and pathology skills. Meanwhile, out-of-pocket costs discourage many people from seeking treatment.

More than 14 million people get cancer around the world each year, according to the WHO report. That number is expected to hit 21 million by 2030. The disease is linked to one in six deaths, or 8.8 million fatalities, each year worldwide. Cancer cost an estimated $1.6 trillion in health care expenses and lost productivity in 2010.

A delayed diagnosis negatively impacts a cancer patient's chances of a positive outcome. Patients who have suffered harm due to a worsened medical condition that resulted may want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney to see if there are sufficient grounds to file a lawsuit against the health care practitioner or facility.

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Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP

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