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Pestering the Doctor Might Save Your Life

(Brent Stirton/Getty)

I am well aware that many medical patients tend to be “a pain” at times. I believe “down south”, it is referred to as being a “heavy patient.”

That said, I recently read a bladder cancer study from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center that found that nearly ALL patients with high-grade, non-invasive bladder cancer are NOT receiving the guideline-recommended care that would best protect them from recurrence, a finding that researchers are characterizing as alarming!

In fact, out of 4,545 patients included in the study, ONLY ONE RECEIVED THE COMPREHENSIVE CARE recommended by the American Urology Association and the National Comprehensive Network.

Dr. Karim Chamie, lead author of the study, says receiving the recommended comprehensive care for high-grade bladder cancer is critical because it can significantly minimize the likelihood that patients will die from their cancer.

Dr. Chamie says, “we were surprised by the findings in this study, particularly in an era when many suggest that doctors over-treat patients and do too much in the name of practicing defensive medicine. This study suggests quite the contrary, that we don’t do enough for patients with bladder cancer. If this was a report card on bladder cancer care in America, I’d say we’re earning a failing grade.”

Dr. Mark S. Litwin, the senior author of this same study says, “it is puzzling, because strong evidence supports those guidelines.” But this is a wake-up call to all physicians caring for patients with bladder cancer. We know definitively what constitutes high-quality care. Now we just need to make sure it happens.

This year alone, more than 70,000 Americans will be diagnosed with bladder cancer, of those, 15,000 will die.

My suggestion: if you’re dealing with any kind of health problem, whether it be cancer, hypertension, backaches, etc, become as informed as possible about your disease — knowledge is power — and work/partner with your physician to make certain that your medical complaints are getting resolved in the best way possible. In these times, it is more important than ever to become pro-active and be an advocate for your health.

If you don’t, more often than not, no one else is going to “pick up the ball” for you. Not even My-Man-Obama!

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