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Can I sue my Doctor for misdiagnosis of Colon Cancer?

Nov 23, 2021

To raise awareness for men’s health, many men participated in  “No-Shave November,” a movement that asks men to donate whatever money they would ordinarily spend on hair care to cancer research and prevention instead. One of the cancers highlighted by “No-Shave November” is colorectal cancer, specifically colon cancer.

This article will provide an overview of colon cancer and ultimately endeavor to answer if one can sue their doctor for misdiagnosis of colon cancer.

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is a subset of colorectal cancer that affects the colon, the final part of the digestive tract.

It usually begins with the formation of small clumps of noncancerous cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon. Eventually, these colon polyps can become cancerous.

These polyps often do not cause any symptoms, and therefore may be hard to recognize. For this reason, colon screening tools such as a colonoscopy are often used to help prevent the development of colon cancer. 

What are the symptoms of Colon Cancer?

The symptoms of colon cancer may include: 

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal cramps
  • A feeling that your bowel isn’t completely empty after a bowel movement
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

It should be noted that symptoms often vary depending on cancer’s size and location in your large intestine, and as such, diagnosing colon cancer can be problematic.

What are the Risk Factors for Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer also has many risk factors, including certain inflammatory bowel conditions, genetics, medical history, and smoking. These factors can be minimized through lifestyle changes, though there is no specific way to prevent colon cancer outside of early diagnosis of colon polyps and treatment.

Can Colon Cancer be treated?

Colon cancer can be controlled through treatment. These treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and other targeted therapies that can significantly reduce the risk of mortality from both colon and colorectal cancer. 

How is Colon Cancer Diagnosed?

For colon cancer to be adequately treated, early detection is essential. This means that if any symptoms are present, and if there is a suspicion of colon cancer, several tests should occur. These tests can include blood tests, a diagnostic colonoscopy, and a biopsy.

Blood tests are used to search for the presence of cancer, or to help determine the spread and severity of the cancer.

Blood tests include complete blood counts, which ensure that the blood has the correct number of cells that carry oxygen, liver enzymes, which check liver function and ensure that cancer has not spread to the liver, and tumor markers, which indicate the presence of a tumor.

A diagnostic colonoscopy is a test where a physician searches the entire colon using a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end. A colonoscopy can be performed to look for possible polyps or collect some of the polyps for biopsy when a piece of tissue is tested to see if it is cancerous.

The diagnostic colonoscopy is the crucial test to determine the presence of colon cancer.

Is Misdiagnosis always Medical Malpractice?

Misdiagnosis is not always medical malpractice. In the case of colon cancer, cancer can be under-diagnosed or overdiagnosed.

Misdiagnosis can happen due to reasonable errors made by a physician or a diagnostic test, but there are also times where misdiagnosis can be medical malpractice.

Because of this possibility, a patient needs to get a second opinion if symptoms persist or if the patient is uneasy with a physician’s diagnosis. It is also essential to talk to a lawyer and provide an accurate description of one’s situation to understand if a misdiagnosis was a case of medical malpractice. Therefore, one can sue their doctor for misdiagnosis, but the case’s merits are dependent on the specific situation.

Justpoint can help you determine if your circumstance warrants contacting a lawyer.

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