Fourteen. That’s how many times, Mia Rajalin visited primary care before she received the chest X-ray that showed the tumor. And the X-ray referral was sent with hesitation – she was too young and had never smoked a cigarette.
The diagnosis became drive and commitment. Mia wants to work so that no one else suffers from what she, and many others, have gone through. To not receive a diagnos in primary care even though you yourself suspect that you are sick. Mia’s 14 visits occurred over a period of one and a half years. One difficulty in detecting lung cancer, which Mia was diagnosed with, is that the first symptoms are so common. Cough, fatigue, pain. However, visiting primary care so often in such a short period of time, that is not common.
– I felt dismissed many times. Before this, I had hardly ever sought medical attention.
The whole society would benefit from early detection. People of working age can continue to work, loved ones feel good, children do not have to undergo the trauma of losing a parent to cancer.
Mia believes that there is an acceptance of the low proportion of lung cancer cases detected in stage one and two. You’ve gotten used to it, you see it as a silent cancer. Most often, the care system detects the cancer in stage four when it is not curable. But patients report symptoms long before they are diagnosed. Many lives can be saved, and early detection would also have other positive effects.
– The whole society would benefit from it. People of working age can continue to work, loved ones feel good, children do not have to undergo the trauma of losing a parent to cancer. And the cost of care of course – the new treatments are good, but expensive. If it is possible to operate more in stage one and two, that would be half the cost.
Artificial intelligence could detect whether a patient has sought care several times in a short time. It can help to see changes in the visiting pattern, where the various symptoms altogether can point towards cancer.
At the same time, Mia points out that shortcomings are in the structure and not in competence. To only get 10 minutes per patient, not have time to read medical records, learn that smoking is the only cause. Then, of course, cancer cannot be the first suspicion when a patient comes in and is tired. What is needed is supportive tools. She lists examples used by other countries. As risk assessment tools, screening, and symptom checkers.
– It’s pretty simple stuff, which would go pretty quick to put in. I myself filled out a symptom checker with all the symptoms I had before the diagnosis. The result was that it is something, and it could be these diseases. Lung cancer was on that list.
Mia also talks about the possibilities of digital tools.
– For example, artificial intelligence could detect whether a patient has sought care several times in a short time. It can help to see changes in the visiting pattern, where the various symptoms altogether can point towards cancer.
Vision Zero Cancer can work cross-border and convey conversations without anything being sensitive, where the common goal is what matters. They have a unique position as a spider in the web.
Two of Mia’s engagements are the Lung Cancer Association and Vision Zero Cancer, where she is part of the core team as a patient representative.
– I have a foot in both worlds because I myself work in health care. I can understand the problems of care but also see that the patient’s needs have to be better met. It should not take 14 visits before the detection of lung cancer. Healthcare needs to be given more time with the patient and systemic support support.
She sees one of the benefits of Vision Zero Cancer as being a neutral forum.
– Vision Zero Cancer can work cross-border and convey conversations without anything being sensitive, where the common goal is what matters. They have a unique position as a spider in the web. They can make sure it’s a collaboration. Because that is what it needs to be.
How do we detect cancer earlier?
The earlier cancer is detected, the greater are the chances of survival. With new systems and knowledge, we can pick up on symptoms earlier and more quickly come to treatment. And get better chances to reach vision zero.