Colon Cancer, Rectal Cancer, and Colorectal Cancer
If you or someone you love was harmed as a result of failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of colon cancer, you’ll want answers and you may be entitled to compensation. The Erie medical malpractice lawyers at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. want to help.
Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine, while rectal cancer is cancer of the bottom six inches of the large intestine. Together, these cancers are referred to as “colorectal cancer.”
Colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer, affecting about 150,000 patients each year. Its survival rates depend greatly on timely diagnosis. If caught early, colorectal cancer has a 90% survival rate. The survival rate drops to 10% if the cancer is not diagnosed until after it has spread to other tissue in the body.
Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis
Most colorectal cancers begin as “polyps,” small fleshy growths on the lining of the colon. Over time, these clumps of cells can develop into cancer. Regular screenings can identify these polyps before they develop into cancer. Typical tests include:
- Fecal Occult Blood Test (“FOBT”) – This is a non-invasive test for the presence of non-visible blood in the stool (or feces). The test is so simple that it is sometimes taken at home. A positive FOBT does not mean you have cancer. There are multiple causes of blood in the stool. But it is an important factor that your doctor should consider in determining whether additional testing or evaluation is required.
- Sigmoidoscopy – A sigmoidoscopy is the visual examination of the last two feet of the colon using a tiny camera on a flexible tube passed through the anus. It is often used as a screening tool for full colonoscopy.
- Colonoscopy – A colonoscopy uses a flexible tube and tiny camera lens passed through the anus to provide an image of the full colon, four or five feet in length. Virtual colonoscopy, using multidimensional images from CT scans, is a non-invasive version of this test but its effectiveness is still under investigation. The colonoscopy allows a physician to visualize the colon and, when warranted, biopsy tissue or remove polyps.
When you should begin to have screenings depends on your family history. If your history suggests you are at risk, you may begin having colonoscopies or other screenings at 21 years and again every one or two years. Otherwise, colonoscopy screening should be initiated by age 50.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
The most common symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- Rectal Bleeding
- Change in Bowel Habits (frequency, stool appearance)
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Fatigue and General Weakness
- Abdominal Pain and Cramping
Failure to Diagnose Colorectal Cancer
Your doctor has a responsibility to be alert to the possibility of colorectal cancer. This means ordering the proper tests at the proper stage in life (even if you don’t have symptoms); taking proper account of your personal and family history; and recognizing the symptoms of colorectal cancer and ordering the necessary tests to identify it. Negligence in the diagnosis of colorectal cancer can occur if your doctor fails to order tests when necessary or misreads the tests that are performed.
Contact a Pennsylvania Colorectal Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer
If you believe that you or a loved one was harmed because your doctor failed to diagnose colon cancer or rectal cancer, you should seek an evaluation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The Erie failure to diagnose colon cancer lawyers at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. have the knowledge and experience needed to accurately assess and thoroughly prepare your case. You may be entitled to compensation and we’d like to help you. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case at 814-833-7100 or toll free at 814-833-7100, or use our online contact form.