According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal, or colon cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. A delayed diagnosis of colon cancer can result in the disease progressing to a more advanced stage leading to a higher risk of death. However, when colon cancer is diagnosed early, treatment can be effective and the survival rate is fairly high. There are several screening tests that can detect colon or rectal cancer in its early stages.
The Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines (from U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, also aligned with the American Cancer Society) sets forth recommendations and standards for primary care providers with regards to when and how to test patients for colon cancer. In May 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a new recommendation lowering the colorectal cancer screening age from 50 to 45 to address the growing rates of colon cancer among younger and middle-aged adults. The newest guidelines recommending patients at average risk of colon cancer to begin regular colorectal cancer screening five years sooner is intended to lead to earlier cancer detection and better outcomes.
The different screening tests include the following:
However, the primary testing method to detect and rule out colon cancer is a colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are the most effective and accurate screening tool because colonoscopies not only detect the cancer, but can also prevent it because if any precancerous polyps are found during the test, the polyps can be removed during the same procedure. If a test other than a colonoscopy is performed and the results are abnormal, the abnormal test result must be followed up with a diagnostic colonoscopy to rule out colon cancer.
Signs and symptoms suggestive of colon cancer can include rectal bleeding, blood in stool, change in bowel habits, abdominal pain, onset anemia and/or unintended weight loss. Although patients may be advised that certain symptoms such as rectal bleeding can be due to another condition, patients should still request a colonoscopy in order to rule out colon cancer. If you or a loved one has experienced any of the above symptoms but your doctor failed to refer you for further evaluation or order appropriate testing and you were later diagnosed with colon cancer, you may have a medical malpractice claim for a delayed diagnosis of colon cancer.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a delayed diagnosis of colon cancer, our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys will meet with you at no charge to discuss your case. At Mossing & Navarre, LLC, we have extensive experience handling cases involving delayed colon cancer diagnosis and we are ready to assist you in the investigation of the facts of your case to determine whether the doctor failed to properly and timely diagnose your colon cancer; failed to order appropriate tests that would have led to a timely diagnosis of colon cancer; and/or failed to refer you to a specialist for further investigation and follow up. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss the details of your case.