Tips for Understanding Your Doctor’s Prognosis of Your Cancer
Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Attorneys in Pittsburgh, PA
What exactly is the definition of the term “prognosis?”
A prognosis is a doctor’s estimate of the likely course and outcome of a disease. The prognosis of a patient diagnosed with cancer is often viewed as the chance that the disease will be treated successfully and that the patient will recover. A prognosis is just an estimate or educated guess. This is very important to remember. This article gives some tips for understanding how a doctor makes this estimate, and what factors go into a prognosis.
What will change or affect a prognosis?
Many of factors can affect a cancer prognosis. Among the most important are:
1. The type of cancer;
2. The location of the cancer;
3. The stage of the disease, which means how much the cancer has spread in the body;
4. The cancer’s grade. This means the degree of abnormality of the cancer cells when observed microscopically, and indicates how quickly the cancer is likely to grow and spread;
5. The biological and genetic properties of the cancer cells (known as “biomarkers”);
6. The patient’s age and any other health conditions;
7. The treatment options available; and
8. How well the cancer responds to treatment.
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Isn’t prognosis heavily based on statistics?
Yes, because doctors estimate the prognosis based on research collected over many years about hundreds or even thousands of people with the same type of cancer. Your doctor should use statistics based on groups of people whose disease and other specific circumstances are most similar to the patient.
Some of the most common statistics that doctors use in giving a prognosis to a patient are:
1. “Cancer-specific survival” means the percentage of patients with a specific type and stage of cancer who have survived for a certain period of time (5 years, 10 years, etc.) after their cancer diagnosis.Cancer-specific survival statistics are usually based on causes of death listed in medical records, which may not be accurate.
2. “Relative survival” means the survival of patients diagnosed with a particular type of cancer compared to the survival of people in the general population who are the same age, race, and sex and who have not been diagnosed with that cancer.
3. “Overall survival” means the percentage of patients with a specific type and stage of cancer who are still alive during a certain period of time after diagnosis.
4. “Disease-free survival” is the percentage of patients who have no evidence of cancer during a certain period of time after their treatment.
Because survival statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. No two patients are entirely alike, and their treatment and responses to treatment can vary greatly. The statistics used also may not take into account the effectiveness of the most current treatments.
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