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Difference between diagnosis or prognosis

diagnosis or prognosis

In the realm of healthcare and medicine, the terms diagnosis and prognosis play crucial roles, each with its distinct purpose and implications. Understanding the grammar of these terms, diagnosis is a noun, singular in form but can have a plural form as diagnoses, referring to the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms. Prognosis, also a noun, refers to the likely course of a disease or ailment, focusing on the prediction of its outcome. These terms are foundational in medical communications, guiding both treatment strategies and patient expectations.

Quick Facts Table

NatureIdentification of a conditionPrediction of the course of a condition
FocusCurrent condition and identifying the issueFuture course and outcome of the condition
Derived fromGreek diagnōsis, meaning “a discerning”Greek prognōsis, meaning “fore-knowing”
UsageMedical, sometimes technical or mechanicalPrimarily medical

Difference Between Diagnosis and Prognosis

Definition of Diagnosis

Diagnosis refers to the process of identifying a disease or condition from its symptoms and signs by a healthcare professional. It involves the assessment of the patient's history, physical examination, and the use of diagnostic tests to determine the nature of the illness.

Definition of Prognosis

Prognosis is the prediction of the outcome of a disease, including the chances of recovery, the expected duration of the condition, potential complications, and the likelihood of survival. It is based on knowledge of the natural course of the disease and other factors like the patient's age, overall health, and response to treatment.

Origin of Diagnosis

The term diagnosis originates from the Greek word diagnōsis, meaning “discernment” or “distinguishing.” It has been used in medical contexts since the early 17th century to describe the process of identifying diseases.

Origin of Prognosis

Prognosis comes from the Greek word prognōsis, meaning “fore-knowing” or “knowledge beforehand.” Its use in English dates back to the mid-17th century, specifically relating to the medical prediction of disease outcomes.


  • Diagnosis: /daɪəɡˈnoʊsɪs/
  • Prognosis: /prɒɡˈnəʊsɪs/

Comparing Diagnosis and Prognosis

While diagnosis and prognosis are both vital aspects of healthcare, they focus on different elements of patient care. Diagnosis is about identifying the current issue, whereas prognosis is about predicting the future course of the condition. The accurate diagnosis of a condition is a critical first step that informs the prognosis and subsequent treatment decisions.

Comparison Table

ObjectiveIdentify the disease or conditionPredict the future course of the disease
Time FramePresentFuture
DependenceSymptoms, signs, testsDisease nature, patient condition, treatments
OutcomeIdentification of the issuePrediction of disease progression and outcome

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Diagnosis in Sentences

  1. The doctor made an accurate diagnosis of the patient’s condition after reviewing the test results.
  2. A timely diagnosis can significantly improve the chances of recovery from many diseases.
  3. The diagnosis of chronic diseases often requires a combination of tests and assessments.
  4. Receiving a diagnosis can be a critical step towards getting the right treatment.
  5. The team discussed the diagnosis process to ensure all differential diagnoses were considered.

Use of Prognosis in Sentences

  1. The patient’s prognosis improved significantly after starting the new treatment.
  2. A good prognosis depends on various factors, including early detection and treatment.
  3. The doctor explained that the prognosis for this type of cancer has improved over the years.
  4. Understanding the prognosis can help patients and families prepare for the future.
  5. The prognosis for recovery from the surgery was excellent, given the patient’s overall health.


Diagnosis and prognosis are complementary concepts in the medical field, each serving a distinct purpose in patient care. While diagnosis focuses on identifying the present issue, prognosis looks ahead, predicting the future course and outcome of the disease. Together, they form the foundation of effective medical treatment and patient management.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • What is the importance of an accurate diagnosis?
    • Enables appropriate treatment
    • Helps in predicting the prognosis
    • Reduces the risk of complications
    • Improves patient outcomes
  • Can the prognosis change over time?
    • Yes, based on the patient’s response to treatment
    • With new medical advancements
    • If there are changes in the patient’s condition
  • How do doctors determine a prognosis?
    • Through knowledge of the disease
    • Considering the patient’s health status
    • Based on treatment responses
Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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