According to a study involving almost 174,000 women in the Netherlands, the stage at which breast cancer is detected significantly affects how long the women will survive following diagnosis and treatment. Women in New Mexico might be surprised that these results are contrary to a view in the media that there is little value in early breast cancer diagnosis because of modern oncology.
The researchers used the Netherlands Cancer Registry to pinpoint and track the ages, deaths after diagnosis, tumor stage at diagnosis and treatments of breast cancer patients. The study reveals two very important findings. One is that the overall length of survival for women who battle breast cancer that has reached the lymph nodes is much shorter than for women who do not have to battle cancer in the lymph nodes. The other finding is that having a big invasive tumor reduces the chances of a long life compared to having a small invasive tumor.
These two findings alone demonstrate the benefit of early diagnosis. If mammograms are not enough to detect the cancer early, then the authors say that it is reasonable to either improve the technology or develop a superior alternative screening option for women who are at risk, which includes many older women, a majority of middle-aged women and high-risk young women.
Contrary to this, prior views in the press are that early detection is of little value. This view is often related to a few studies that report improved breast cancer survival rates because of progress in treatments rather than image detection. With early detection being so important for the treatment of breast cancer, a delayed diagnosis could have serious consequences for a woman. When a delayed diagnosis is the result of negligence on the part of a health care practitioner or facility, the affected patient might want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney to learn more about the remedies that may be available for seeking compensation.