Article by FabafterFifty
Often, as the years creep by, it can be tempting to put potential medical symptoms down to simply getting older. But, there are certain conditions which are more common in the over 50s so it’s important for patients and GPs to be vigilant. Here are just some of the cases which highlight why…
The average age of cervical cancer sufferers is 48 and symptoms of cervical cancer and the menopause can have similarities. In both, irregular bleeding is common. But, despite that, one grandmother’s GP failed to look at the possibility of cervical cancer when she visited complaining of fever and experiencing heavy bleeding. A year after 55-year-old Cheryl Humpage first went to her GP with symptoms, she was finally diagnosed with cervical cancer. But, by then, it was too late and she died a few months later. Her family have since received a five-figure payout after suing her GP for medical negligence.
Bone-weakening condition osteoporosis is more common in women, particularly after the menopause. But the risk can be even greater if you have to take steroids for three months or more as steroids lower your bone density over time. One 61-year-old woman who was prescribed steroids for her glaucoma wasn’t also given calcium to prevent osteoporosis. She went on to suffer three spine fractures and was awarded £38,000 after the hospital trust involved accepted part liability.
Ovarian cancer is another condition most likely to affect post menopausal women. But delays in diagnosing the condition are all too common. Pulse magazine, a publication aimed at GPs, highlighted a study by the Medical Defence Union which found that, in nine years, £550,000 was paid out to women who suffered delays in ovarian cancer diagnosis. Of all 209 cases looked at as part of the research, all but one involved a diagnostic delay. Legal advisor Dr Rachel Sutcliffe said because typical symptoms such as stomach pain and bloating were similar to other conditions, a failure to diagnose ovarian cancer was not necessarily negligent, but she urged doctors to make sure they looked at the possibility, sending patients for further treatment or tests if needed.
Depression is the most common mental illness in older people and the second most common reason for GP consultations for people over the age of 70. It’s believed depression in older people is often triggered by life events such as bereavement or loss of heath. But it doesn’t have to be a normal part of the ageing process. Many of us of a certain age report feeling happier than ever before as we grow more confident and comfortable in our own skin. Experts, however, say receiving substandard medical care can play a part in feelings of depression. Research in the Journal of Age and Aging revealed many older people felt they’d suffered discrimination when it came to receiving property medical treatment.
Arthritis affects 10 million people in the UK and can strike at any age, but both most common types, Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, are more likely to be diagnosed after the age of 40. One woman’s arthritis progressed more rapidly than it should have because she didn’t start treatment until a year after blood tests which indicated she did have rheumatoid arthritis. She was awarded £20,000 in compensation after arguing the delay led to her disability becoming worse.
They’re just a handful of the cases which show how important it is not to dismiss any symptoms, no matter what your age.