General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

What percentage of the public is unaware that they are terminally ill?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9105 points ) May 7th, 2010

There must be a sizable number of us just about to kick the bucket soon and don’t even know it? Definitely live each day like its your last, but for many of us it might not be far off!

Is a normal doctors exam/physical good enough to be informed well in advance?

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22 Answers

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

For the increasing number of people who lack adequate access to regular medical care, this may be the case. If problems go undetected at an early stage, then people may die unaware of medical risks they could have avoided with treatment and lifestyle changes.

This works well for the insurance industry by eliminating those prone to serious and potentially fatal illnesses from the pool of potential insured persons. The underwriters must rejoice! The shareholders make more profits. The doctors can focus on the diseases of the rich.
What could be wrong with such a plan?

gailcalled's avatar

We’re all terminally ill.

Silhouette's avatar

I hope I’m one of the blissfully ignorant. When it comes to my health I’m kind of a meerkat anyway. I don’t ask and I only surface listen. Worrywarts die from the stress and I’d raher die surprised.

Randy's avatar

I agree with @gailcalled. Nobody makes it out alive.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I’m not really sure how you would figure out the percentage of people that don’t know, since if they don’t know, it’s likely that no one else knows either…

Jewel's avatar

Most of us. Only a few seem to understand that we are all dying.

Coloma's avatar

Nothing to add over here, yep, we are all dying, some sooner, some later, but in the grand scheme of things it’s all a drop in the bucket, when we kick the bucket is best left to mystery…I for one would welcome being one of those that goes to the doctor on Tuesday not feeling well and is dead on Wednsday! lololol

SeventhSense's avatar

I suppose if we knew this there would certainly be a decline in the mortality rate. But since we don’t hey “shit happens”.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I also wonder how many people the coroner sees that die in accidents, or other events, but happened to also be terminally ill.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@gailcalled… or “terminally well”, would be another way of putting it.

gailcalled's avatar

@CyanoticWasp: Would not that imply living forever?

gasman's avatar

“Terminally ill” usually means expecting to die soon—of end-stage disease like cancer or severe organ failure, causing a steady downhill course that might play out over weeks to months. If you passed a doctor’s exam you’re not likely to be terminal.

When an apparently healthy person suddenly dies of natural causes, however, nobody says that they were ‘terminal’ in the days before, so I’m not sure what the question is.

You can have a normal physical exam (along with some normal test results) and still die soon from something like a heart attack. They would have to do special tests to rule out risk factors, and you’re still not out of the woods. Some unlucky people die from totally unpredictable things like ventricular fibrillation or ruptured brain aneurysm. They are hardly ‘informed in advance’. Life is fragile.

Coloma's avatar

@gasman

Yep, an old aquaintance of mine had a cerebral aneurysm last Sunday night.

60 yrs. old, perfect health, athletic, non-smoker, very light drinker.

Went to bed and never woke up, till his wife discovered his coma like sleep state.

He is now in San Francisco awaiting surgery for an abnormal acting aneurysm that is deep in his brain.

No one knows what to expect.

Death is always in the shadows regardless of how health obsessed one is.

gasman's avatar

It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.
—Woody Allen

Coloma's avatar

‘Don’t look at death as a negative, look at it as a great way to save money.’ can’t remember who lol

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@gailcalled no, not living forever, just living well… for now, and for who knows how long? ... prior to death.

faye's avatar

There’s a line between going to the doctor too much and poo-poohing aches and pains. I’ve nursed people who had odd bowel movements for a year or regular vomiting but didn’t go to the doctor. So they died, but maybe they just missed living an extra few months on chemo. And for you in the US, running up that debt load!!

cazzie's avatar

This is such a silly question that it’s awesome! It’s like asking… ‘What is the answer to what none of us know?’ great stuff. thanks for the laugh.

Life is a race. First one to the finish line wins.

deni's avatar

Hopefully pretty small. You would think that with a terminal illness, one would have some type of inkling that they were sick, ya know?

Depressing question

gailcalled's avatar

Memento Mori.

AshlynM's avatar

Well, eventually you’d start showing signs of your disease, would you not?

If the public doesn’t know, then how is there to be a guess on how many are unaware if they’re terminally ill?

We are all expected to die, some of us just don’t know when. We could keel over tomorrow.

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