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Beth Wittmer Discusses Potential Reasons Patients Delay Seeking Treatment

Fear and denial can contribute to a patient’s hesitancy to seek prompt treatment, says Beth Wittmer, RN, OCN, manager of care management at Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute.


Fear and denial can contribute to a patient’s hesitancy to seek prompt treatment, says Beth Wittmer, RN, OCN, manager of care management at Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute.

Transcript

Why do patients wait when something is wrong rather than go to their physician or clinic before an issue gets worse?

Well, part of it is denial. And we like to think—and you’re young—I still kind of think I’m relatively young but I kind of ignore things like my back hurts or this happens, and you just think, "I’m okay, I should be fine." And then all the sudden people have cancer, not expecting that.

So, I think once they have cancer sometimes they get in a little bit of denial. That or part of it is that "If I admit that there’s problems, they’ll take me off my treatment, and then I won’t have anything left for options." And I think a lot of patients will do that. They’ll be in and actually have a visit with the physician, come to the treatment room, and then admit that they have a hard time walking because their neuropathy is so bad. But did you mention that to the physician? “Well no, they were really busy.” Or they literally will say I’m afraid that would reduce my dose and we can’t beat the cancer, so it’s a fear.

 
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