Colon cancer is a very common type of cancer. There are more than 100,000 cases diagnosed every year. If it is properly diagnosed and treated, colon cancer has a 90% survival rate if it is found while it is still at a local stage (still only in the colon or the rectum). Therefore it is important that people who are over 50 years old or have a hereditary risk to go to regular checkups because colon cancer does not have many noticeable symptoms when it is in the early stages. However, patients still need to rely on a doctor to properly diagnose the illness and these diagnoses can sometimes be inaccurate.
A misdiagnosis of colon cancer can have disastrous consequences. If the cancer is found after it has reached the regional state (tissue surrounding the colon has already become infected), the survival rate is 69%. Once the disease has spread to other parts of the body, the survival rate is 12%. In some cases, the doctor’s failure to correctly diagnose colon cancer resulted from medical malpractice.
Diagnosing and Misdiagnosis
There are several different tests a physician can use to determine whether a patient has colon cancer. The following tests can be used to determine if a patient has colon cancer:
- Double Contrast Barium Enema
- Fecal Occult Blood Test
- Virtual Colonoscopy
The doctor’s choice of test can be important as choosing the correct test is an important part of diagnosing a patient’s cancer accurately. Factors to determine which test a doctor chooses include age, medical and family history, insurance coverage, and if sedation is necessary. There may be times when it is necessary for the doctor to perform more than one type of test should the initial results not be clear.
If a doctor does not order one of the above tests in response to a patient’s symptoms, does not accurately read test results, or fails to order a second test should the results of the first test be unclear, the doctor may have been negligent. This negligence can lead to the patient’s colon cancer being misdiagnosed, making it more likely that the cancer will spread to other regions of the body.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the misdiagnosis of colon cancer you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
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