World Cancer Day: Telemedicine’s Role in Early Detection

World Cancer Day


How many of us have postponed a healthcare appointment simply because it was inconvenient? Often, delaying care is inconsequential, but what happens when it’s not?

Below is a story from one of VirtualMed Staff’s Teleneurologists, Dr. Jeffrey English, on just how valuable convenient access to care can be:

One story I love to share involves a patient I saw while they were visiting their primary care doctor. The patient had an atypical lesion on their brain, and we weren’t sure whether it was cancerous, multiple sclerosis (MS), or something else. In the old days, the patient would need to visit the hospital, receive another set of MRIs, and then wait 6 weeks to see what the next steps should be.

Fortunately, by seeing the patient through telemedicine, I was able to immediately review the MRI. Unfortunately, the diagnosis was cancer, but instead of waiting 4-6 weeks to find out the diagnosis, the patient was able to receive treatment immediately the next day.

We saved the patient valuable time that potentially saved their life had they waited.

Dr. English’s story is just one example the effectiveness and value that telemedicine provides. The immediate access removed any barriers that could have delayed the patient from starting treatment, and that’s one of the biggest benefits that us at VirtualMed Staff wanted to highlight in light of World Cancer Day.

What is World Cancer Day?

World Cancer Day is "an international awareness day aimed at uniting the globe in an initiative to promote awareness, improve education, and reimagining a world where millions of preventable cancer deaths are saved and access to life-saving cancer treatment and care is equal for all - no matter who you are or where you live."

With nearly 9.6 million deaths from cancer each year, the World Cancer Day movement aims at addressing the nearly one third of cancer deaths that are preventable through early detection and treatment. One valuable healthcare solution that is supporting early detection is telemedicine.

Telemedicine’s role in early cancer detection

As Dr. English’s story illustrates, delaying treatment even a couple of weeks can have a significant impact on the health outcome of a patient. Timely access to specialists via telemedicine is even more important when you consider that only 33% of patients follow-up with the specialist whom they are referred to.

Even more recently, the coronavirus pandemic has also negatively impacted appointment no-show rates. A survey in mid- April of 2020 reported that a third of patients surveyed reported delaying or cancelling healthcare appointments in fear of contracting the virus.

Telemedicine removes many of the barriers that would prevent patients from receiving care. By offering telemedicine access to specialists at primary care facilities, hospitals, or community care centers, patients can receive timely care without delay.

Recognizing World Cancer Day

We’ve all been impacted by cancer, one way or another. Whether it’s a loved one, a colleague, or an acquaintance, we’ve all experienced in some form or another the devastation the disease can cause. In the fight to defeat cancer early and increase the odds of a positive health outcome, telemedicine can provide a valuable tool to aid in early detection.  

To learn more about adopting telemedicine at your practice, hospital, or community care center, let’s get started by contacting a VirtualMed Staff specialist today.