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Women and the Poor Twice as Likely to Suffer Delays in Diagnosing Brain Tumours

Women and low-income patients are “twice as likely” as men to suffer delays in securing a diagnosis for brain tumours, according to a new report.

The Brain Tumour Charity study, “Finding Myself in Your Hands: the Reality of Brain Tumour Treatment and Care” found that 30 per cent of women had not received a diagnosis 12 months after first seeing a doctor with symptoms, compared with just 15 per cent of men.

The research also revealed that almost 40 per cent of women saw a doctor more than five times with symptoms such as, personality changes, memory loss, and severe fatigue before their brain tumour was eventually diagnosed, compared with 23 per cent of men.

Overall, almost one in three male and female brain tumour patients visited a doctor more than five times before their brain tumours were diagnosed, while nearly a quarter waited more than 12 months for a diagnosis.

The survey of more than 1,000 brain tumour patients also found that 11 per cent of women had waited at least five years from their symptoms first appearing to receiving a diagnosis, compared with just six per cent of men.

Alarmingly, only 53 per cent of patients said they were satisfied with how their diagnosis was handled. More than half said they didn’t believe the NHS gave brain tumours the attention they deserved, and some women even reported being dismissed as attention-seeking or having their doctors tell them they were simply ‘tired’ and didn’t need a brain scan.

The report also revealed a link between average diagnosis waiting times and household income, with those earning below £20,000 more likely than those earning above £40,000 to see a doctor five times or more and be left waiting for a diagnosis for more than 12 months.

The fact that almost a third of all brain tumour patients are having to visit their doctor multiple times with symptoms before they are diagnosed is concerning enough, but the added revelation that there is any kind of gender bias or link between waiting times and household income, is particularly disturbing.

Our clinical negligence solicitors deal with a large number of these types of cases where a delay in diagnosing a patient’s cancer has brought unimaginable heartache to the families concerned.

The earlier cancer is correctly diagnosed the better the chances effective treatment will lead to a positive outcome. If opportunities for diagnosing cancer are missed and patients are denied the kind of timely treatment that should immediately follow diagnosis as a result, the consequences can obviously be devastating.

Penny Fitzpatrick is a senior clinical negligence solicitor at Slater and Gordon in London.

Slater and Gordon help people who have suffered from delayed or wrong diagnosis of cancer due to medical negligence.

For a free consultation call our medical negligence solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.

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