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Report: Most Cases of Dementia are Undiagnosed

Many people are not diagnosed with dementia until the disease is well advanced.

"Failure to diagnose Alzheimer's in a timely manner represents a tragic missed opportunity to improve the quality of life for millions of people," said Dr. Daisy Acosta, chairman of Alzheimer's Disease International, a patient advocacy group that sponsored the study.

The group last year estimated that Alzheimer's and other dementias cost $604 billion globally to treat, a figure that will soar as the number of sufferers triples by 2050.

Its latest report, which makes the case for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's, comes just days before a United Nations meeting on Alzheimer's and is aimed at getting the disease on the agenda of world leaders.

The group is pushing for all countries to develop a national dementia strategy that promotes early diagnosis and offers a range of care from primary care doctors, specialists, and community-based treatment centers.

Recent studies suggest the disease starts developing at least a decade before symptoms appear.

Many scientists and patient advocates believe earlier testing will play an important role in getting people treated and in preparing families for the burden ahead. 

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