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Delayed Colon Cancer Diagnosis: Can You Sue?

Early detection of colon cancer is key to survival. Most colon cancer begins in polyps found in the colon, which can be removed during or after screening. Although not all polyps will become cancerous, many will. Removing them protects the patient and is relatively easy. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends that people have a colonoscopy or a similar test beginning by age 45, even if they are at average risk of developing cancer.

Alarmingly, more and more young people are being diagnosed with colon cancer. Indeed, although colon cancer rates have fallen roughly 1% each year for those over age 50, they have increased around 2% annually for those between 20 and 34. It was once uncommon for someone in their 20s or 30s to be diagnosed with colon cancer—but not anymore.

At Powers & Santola, LLP, our Rochester delayed cancer diagnosis attorneys are here for you. Unfortunately, many people with colon cancer fall victim to delayed and missed diagnosis. Contact us to learn more about whether you have a valid legal claim for malpractice.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you experience these symptoms, you should discuss them with a doctor. Of course, many conditions can cause fatigue, stomach pain, or diarrhea, so you can’t assume you have cancer because of them. But part of diagnosing a patient is considering all possible underlying conditions. And a careful doctor should screen for colon cancer where appropriate.

Why Diagnosis is Delayed?

Sadly, given the importance of early diagnosis, some patients end up waiting years for their cancer to be properly diagnosed—and usually only after it has spread. There are some common reasons for delayed colon cancer diagnosis:

  • Lab mix-ups. Biopsy results could be lost or mislabeled, or the wrong test results could be reported to a doctor.
  • Failure to recommend a colonoscopy. A doctor might not recommend a colonoscopy or similar test because the patient is young and the doctor wrongly believes only older people get the disease.
  • Carelessness. Even a doctor who performs a colonoscopy might not pay close attention while performing the task. For this reason, they might miss polyps or other signs of cancer and instead tell the patient they are fine.
  • Missing medical history. A patient might be at high risk for colon cancer due to certain medical conditions or a family history of the disease. A doctor might have failed to elicit this information from a patient.

When a Missed Diagnosis is Malpractice

Not every delayed diagnosis qualifies as medical malpractice. It’s not that simple. Instead, we need to know more about the information your doctor had and the choices he or she made. Based on this knowledge, we can better understand whether your doctor followed the correct standard of care.

For example, if you have a family history of colon cancer and were bleeding from the rectum, a careful doctor should recommend screening for colon cancer. Failure to connect the dots in this way would likely qualify as malpractice.

To learn more, contact Powers & Santola today. Our Rochester delayed cancer diagnosis attorneys have helped many injured patients receive compensation, and we are eager to discuss your case with you.

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