When A Diagnosis Of Colon Cancer Metastasis May Lead to A Malpractice Lawsuit

24th June 2010
By J. Hernandez in Medical Malpractice
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Colon cancer is the second leading reason for deaths due to cancer. Each year, around forty eight thousand individuals will die as a result of colon cancer. A large number of these deaths would be prevented with early detection and treatment through routine colon cancer screening in advance of when symtoms develop.

When the cancer is found as a small polyp in the course of a regularly scheduled screening test, for example, a colonoscopy, the polyp can frequently be taken out in the course of the colonoscopy. At this point, there is no requirement for the surgical removal of any portion of the colon. Once the polyp grows to the point where it becomes cancerous and gets to Stage I or Stage II, the tumor and a portion of the colon on both sides of the tumore is surgical removed. The likelihood that the individual will survive the cancer is over ninety percent for Stage I and 73% for Stage 2.

By the point the cancer gets to a Stage III, surgery is no longer sufficient. The individual will, in addition, need to have chemotherapy. The relative 5-year survival rate drops to fifty three percent, depending on such factors as the number of lymph nodes that show up positive for cancer.

As soon as the colon cancer metastasizes, treatment may require chemotherapy and perhaps different drugs as well as surgery on various organs. Should the dimensions and number of tumors in different organs (like the liver and lungs) are sufficiently few, surgery to take out the cancer from those other organs may be the first treatment, followed by chemotherapy. Sometimes the size or quantity of tumors in the different organs eliminates the possibility of surgery as a treatment.

If chemotherapy and other drugs are able to lower the number and dimensions of these tumors, surgery may at that point turn out to be a viable follow up treatment. If not, chemotherapy and other drugs (possibly from clinical trials) may for a time halt or lessen the further spread of the cancer. With metastasis the individual's likelihood of outliving the cancer for more than five years subsequent to diagnosis falls to around eight percent.

As the relative 5-year survival rates reveal, the time frame when the colon cancer is detected and treated results in a significant difference. If diagnosed and treated early, the patient has an excellent chance of outliving the disease. When detection and treatment is delayed, the chances start turning against the individual so that if the cancer progresses to the lymph nodes, the probability is almost 50/50. Further the chances decrease greatly once the cancer metastasizes.

But, all too often doctors do not recommend routine cancer testing to men and women who do not display any symptoms. When the cancer is finally discovered - often due to the fact that the tumor has become so large that it is causing blockage, since the person has unexplained anemia that is getting progressively worse, or since the individual starts to notice other indications - the colon cancer has already advanced to a Stage 3 or even a Stage 4. The individual now confronts a much different prognosis than he or she would have if the cancer had been found early through routine screening tests.

In medical malpractice terms, the patient has suffered a "loss of chance" of a better recovery. That is to say, since the doctor failed to advisev that the person have a routine screening test, the cancer is now much more advanced and the patient has a much reduced chance of outliving the cancer. The failure of a physician to recommend the patient have screening options for colon cancer might constitute medical malpractice.

You can learn more about cases involving advanced colon cancer and other cancer matters including metastasized breast cancer by visiting his website
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