Why Pulmonary Fibrosis Is Underdiagnosed

June 8, 2020

Greg Cosgrove, MD, explains how the respiratory condition can be overlooked by patients and clinicians.

Results of the annual Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) National Awareness Survey this year showed a quarter of 2000 US adults have never even heard of the disease.

Another 57% weren’t familiar with the disease, its symptoms, prevalence, and burden—they just knew the name.

These findings are representative of the odds Greg Cosgrove, MD, and his team face every day among at-risk, new, or potentially affected yet undiagnosed patients: up to 70% of people may not know about the progressive, fatal, lung-scarring disease which affects about 5 million people presently.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Cosgrove, chief medical officer of the PFF, discussed the newest survey findings and how they shape the story of pulmonary fibrosis: little thought of, but concerning nonetheless. Just 14% of respondents stated they knew the symptoms of the disease.

“That really is a hurdle we need to overcome,” Cosgrove said. “And importantly, in those groups that are at risk, the vast majority didn’t know any of the symptoms that could be attributable.”

He also shared what that lack of public awareness could spell for optimal screening, diagnosis, and initiated care for the deadly pulmonary disease.

“We want patients, and importantly, their physicians, to recognize that pulmonary fibrosis is something one should think of with sub-acute chronic symptoms of cough and breathlessness,” he explained. “If there’s a delay in diagnosis, there’s a significant mortality associated with different forms of it.”


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