Being told one has colon cancer tends to raise worry in the majority of us. It can thus feel highly reassuring for your physician tell you that you merely have hemorrhoids. That there is no need to worry about the blood in your stool. Yet this reassurance ought to only come after the doctor has eliminated the chance of colon cancer (and other potentially serious gastrointestinal problems). Otherwise, you may not learn that you have colon cancer before it is too late. Should a physician decide without testing assumes that complaints of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding by a patient are from hemorrhoids and it later is discovered that the patient had colon cancer all along, that physician might not have met the standard of care. Under those circimstances, the patient might be able to pursue a lawsuit against that doctor.
Mere than 10 million people have hemorrhoids and another 1,000,000 new instances of hemorrhoids will likely occur this year as opposed to a little over the 100 thousand new instances of colon cancer that will be detected this year. Further, not all colon cancers bleed. In the event that they do, the bleeding might be non-consistent. Also depending on where the cancer is in the colon, the blood might not even be visible in the stool. Perhaps it is in part because of the difference in the quantity of instances being detected that some physicians just consider that the presence of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding is from hemorrhoids. This amounts to gambling, pure and simple. A doctor making this diagnosis will be right over ninety percent of the time. It appears realistic, right? The difficulty, however, is that if the doctor is incorrect in this diagnosis, the patient might not discover he or she has colon cancer until it has reached a late stage, possibly even to the point where it is no longer treatable.
When colon cancer is discovered before it metastasizes outside the colon, the individual’s chances of surviving the cancer are over 80%. The five year survival rate is a statistical guage of the percentage of patients who are still alive at least five years following diagnosis. Treatment protocols for early stage colon cancer generally calls for only surgery to take out the tumor and adjacent sections of the colon. Depending on variables like the stage of the cancer and the patient’s medical history (including family medical history), how old the person is, and the patient’s physical condition, chemotherapy may or may not be required.
For this reason doctors typically recommend that a colonoscopy should be done right away if a patient complains of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding. A colonoscopy is a method whereby a flexible tube with a camera on the end is used to examine the interior of the colon. If growths (polyps or tumors) are detected, they can be extracted (if sufficiently small) or sampled and checked for the presence of cancer (by biopsy). Colon cancer might properly be eliminated as the cause of the blood only if a colonoscopy locates no cancer
But, should the cancer not be discovered until it has spread beyond the colon and has reached the lymph nodes, the individual’s 5 year survival rate will generally be around 53%. In addition to surgery to remove the tumor and adjacent portions of the colon treatment for this stage of colon cancer requires chemotherapy in an attempt to remove any cancer that might remain in the body. When the cancer reaches distant organs for example the liver, lungs, or brain, the individual’s five year survival rate is reduced to roughly 8%. If treatment options exist for a patient at this point, they might include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other medications. Treatment might no longer be helpful once the cancer is this advanced. When treatment ceases to be helpful, colon cancer is fatal. This year, roughly 48,000 people will pass away in the U.S. from advanced colon cancer.
As a result of telling the patient that blood in the stool or rectal bleeding as caused by hemorrhoids while not completing the appropriate tests to rule out colon cancer, a physician places the patient at risk of not knowing he or she has colon cancer before it reaches an advanced, possibly untreatable, stage. This may amount to a departure from the accepted standard of medical care and may result in a medical malpractice claim.
If you or a a member of your family were assured by a physician that blood in the stool or rectal bleeding were because of only hemorrhoids, and were later diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer, you need to consult an attorney without delay. This article is for informational usage only and does not constitute legal (or medical) advice. For any medical concerns you should consult with a doctor. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information in this article but should instead consult with an attorney. A competent lawyer who is experienced in medical malpractice may be able to help you determine if you have a claim for a delay in the diagnosis of the colon cancer. Immediately consult with a lawyer are there is a time limit in claims like these.