Why Ignoring Symptoms Of Colon Cancer Might Result in A Medical Malpractice Claim

24th September 2010
By J. Hernandez in Medical Malpractice
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Patient: “Doctor, I am spotting blood in my stool.”

Physician: “It is probalby nothing. You in all likelihood just have hemorrhoids.”

Tragically, some time subsequently this individual learns that the bleeding was really the result of a cancerous tumor in the colon. The individual now has advanced colon cancer that has progressed to the lymph nodes or even to a distant organ, for example the liver or the lungs. What legal options does the patient have under these circumstances?

The first thing to note is that most physicians agree that when a person reports rectal bleeding or blood in the stool a colonoscopy should be performed in order to identify the source of the blood. The colonoscopy helps determine whether the blood is from colon cancer or something else like hemorrhoids. However only supposing that the blood is the result of hemorrhoids risks missing a cancer.

Colon cancer will kill approximately forty eight thousand individuals this year. Colon cancer becomes fatal after it grows and spreads beyond the colon getting into the bloodstream by way of the lymph nodes and establishing itself in other organs like the liver and the lungs. When the cancer reaches that point a patient’s options for treatments are restricted and the possibility that he or she will outlive the cancer are considerably reduced. Treatments, which may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other drugs, may or may not eliminate the cancer.

If at some point treatment no longer works, colon cancer is fatal. Yet it takes time for the cancer to get to that point. It usually starts as a small group of cells. Over time these cells grow and make their way outside the colon where they then begin to spread and grow more.

If the patient with rectal bleeding undergoes a colonoscopy and the tumor is discovered prior to spreading to the lymph nodes or to other organs, it can often be taken out during the colonoscopy if it is sufficiently small or by surgically removing the portion of the colon containing the tumor. Hence a delay in diagnosis and treatment that is long enough to allow the cancer to reach an advanced stage. When this is the case, the patient will be required to undergo additional treatments and will have a drastically decreased chance of living for at least five years beyond diagnosis. Based on the laws of the jurisdiction in which the physician caused the delay, this may give rise to a claim for medical malpractice, or in the most severe case, for wrongful death.

You can learn more about cases involving colon cancer and other cancer matters including breast cancer metastasis by visiting the website
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