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Colorectal Cancer: Failure to Diagnose

Colorectal cancer, or cancer of the colon or rectum, is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States. According to statistics cited in a recent U.S. News & World Report article, over 57,000 people die each year due to complications from colorectal cancer. More people will die from this type of cancer than from breast or prostate cancer.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include general stomach discomfort, unexplained weight loss, blood in the stool or cramps that do not go away. But as with other types of cancer, many people will not exhibit any symptoms at first.

As such, the National Institutes of Health recommends that everyone over 50 years old be screened for colorectal cancer. People who have a history of inflammatory bowel disease, polyps, or a personal or family history with colorectal cancer may need to be screened earlier.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests

Screening exams, or tests performed when there are no apparent symptoms, are crucial when it comes to colorectal cancer. If detected and treated early, it is often curable. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, three main types of screening tests are available:

  • Fecal occult blood test: Performed annually, this test checks for evidence of blood in the stool.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This test examines the intestine and lower portions of the colon for polyps or cancerous cells every five years.
  • Colonoscopy: Generally performed every ten years, this test examines the entire colon.

Despite statistics and concerns in the medical community over colorectal cancer, doctors often fail to order screening exams or misdiagnose this type of cancer.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, or are concerned about your risk of colorectal cancer, it is important to discuss these issues with your doctor.

If you suspect that your doctor was negligent in diagnosing your condition, you may be entitled to compensation. It is equally important to speak with an experienced Iowa medical malpractice attorney.

Sources:

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/healthcare-headaches/2010/12/13/why-screening-for-colorectal-cancer-shouldnt-be-a-hard-sell

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/colorectalcancer.html

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/symptoms.htm

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