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Portland Medical Malpractice Law Blog

3 important cancer facts

Cancer is a well-known threat in the United States, a modern disease that has caused problems for medical professionals for decades. Finding a cure remains a top goal still in 2020, but it has not happened as of yet. This means that many types of cancer are still fatal.

To understand the issue and how it impacts patient care, here are three important facts about the scourge that is cancer:

  1. Cancer takes more lives in the U.S. than anything other than heart disease.
  2. A high percentage of cancer, when newly diagnosed, can be both treated and cured.
  3. It is far easier to cure cancer after an early detection. Understanding the symptoms is crucial. The earlier doctors can begin treatment, the better the outcome for the patient. This is true with all types of cancer.

Can you treat cancer with surgery?

People often talk about chemotherapy as one method of treating cancer, and it certainly is common. It is notorious for being hard on the body, as the chemo itself can make you feel sick -- as it destroys the cancer.

It is important to note, though, that chemo is not the only option. In many cases, it is possible to use surgery. Though some types of surgery do have long recovery times, many are actually easier to get through than chemo.

Catching cancer in its early stages is crucial

Doctors prefer to treat cancer as early as possible, but that does not mean they have no treatment options for late-stage cancer. They can sometimes offer various options to the patient. However, it is important to note that they may stop focusing on curing the disease.

For example, even when some types of cancer progress to the later stages, doctors believe that a cure is impossible. Therefore, they shift their focus. They begin working on relieving the symptoms that the patient has to deal with in order to make them more comfortable.

Having one melanoma increases risks for a second

If you get diagnosed with melanoma — a dangerous type of skin cancer — you should know that the diagnosis makes it more likely that you will have a second spot. This is why many doctors like to do a full-body exam after they find one suspicious spot.

For instance, one doctor saw a man who had put off treatment for years. He had a clear spot of melanoma, she said, and it was also in a very obvious location on his face.

Understanding C-section risks

A C-section is still major surgery. People often do not think of it that way since it is so common. However, it is a serious procedure that carries a high level of risk.

This isn't to frighten you out of having one. At times, doctors choose to perform a C-section because it is actually safer for the mother and child. Thousands of mothers have these procedures without any complications every year. It very well may be the best decision for your family.

The crucial 24 hours after a child is born

When a baby is born, its life is still very fragile. Experts with the World Health Organization (WHO) call those first 24 hours the most dangerous ones of their lives. On the world stage, around one million babies die annually in this short time span, experiencing just a single day of life before passing away.

Naturally, the risks are a bit lower in a country like the United States, with its modern childbirth facilities and medical advancements. For instance, about 2 million mothers worldwide had no one at all with them while giving birth. Another 40 million did not have trained medical professionals or midwives. While this does happen in the United States, it's far less common, helping to reduce infant mortality rates.

Lives taken by common types of cancer in the U.S.

Every year, many people pass away from cancer, which is often cited as the second-leading cause of death in the United States. Even as medical science gets better and better, this disease is still a serious danger to people of all ages.

To see the impact this has on the U.S. population, here are some of the statistics about how many people pass away every year from various types of cancer (deaths are estimated for 2019):

  • Bladder cancer: 17,670
  • Female breast cancer: 41,760
  • Male breast cancer: 500
  • Rectal and colon cancer: 51,020
  • Endometrial cancer: 12,160
  • Kidney cancer: 14,770
  • Leukemia: 22,840
  • Intrahepatic bile duct cancer and liver cancer: 31,780
  • Lung cancer: 142,670
  • Melanoma (skin cancer): 7,230
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: 19,970
  • Pancreatic cancer: 45,750
  • Prostate cancer: 31,620
  • Thyroid cancer: 2,170

Google AI finds breast cancer that doctors miss

You know that detecting breast cancer as early as possible is often the key to treatment and higher survival rates. So, who should you have examine those scans to see if you have cancer or not? You may assume it should be your doctor, but new studies have found that Google AI actually does a better job. It detects cancer more often than even trained human medical professionals.

That's not to say that the AI runs the tests itself. But, after the mammogram is carried out, someone has to examine the scans to see if there is evidence of cancer. This is a very common screening tactic. And, even when doctors sometimes overlook cancer, the AI tends to find it in those scans.

Don't say these things to your doctor

Avoiding mistakes in many areas of life involves communication. It's so critical. You have to communicate effectively, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

This is definitely true when you talk to your doctor. That exchange of information is the key to proper treatment. With that in mind, here are a few things you should not say to your doctor:

  • Do not downplay your symptoms. Do not lie. Do not be anything other than 100% truthful. You don't need to be "tough" for your doctor and act like the pain isn't that bad. Tell them the whole truth to get proper help.
  • Do not lie about lifestyle choices. Your doctor isn't there to judge you for drinking or smoking. They just need to know so that they can understand how to treat you.
  • Do not complain about your last doctor. It's fine to mention why you're getting a second opinion, but too much drama and complaining just makes the new doctor apprehensive.
  • Do not get too caught up in something you learned online. Doctors don't mind that patients want to learn, but it's frustrating for them when a patient trusts some internet source more than the actual doctor.
  • Do not save your biggest concerns for the end of the appointment. Start with them. Give your doctor as much information as you can and give them time to start sorting it out. Remember that symptoms are often connected.

Doctors need enough sleep

When you're tired, you make more mistakes. It's true in everything you do. Drowsy driving leads to car accidents. Feeling too tired when taking an exam in college leads to more wrong answers. How many times have you made an error while exhausted that you never would have made otherwise? It happens to all of us.

For doctors, it's a serious issue. An exhausted doctor who just worked 24 hours or more in a row could make mistakes that impact your health for the rest of your life. That's not a risk you should ever have to take, but it does happen.

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