Can I sue my Doctor for misdiagnosis of Colon Cancer?

In order to raise awareness for men’s health, in November many men participate in  “No-Shave November”, a movement that asks men to donate whatever money they would spend on hair care to cancer research and prevention. One of the cancers highlighted by “No-Shave November” is colorectal cancer, and more 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 the 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, smoking. These factors can be minimized through lifestyle changes, though there is no certain 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 greatly reduce the risk of mortality from both colon and colorectal cancer. 

How is Colon Cancer Diagnosed?

In order for colon cancer to be properly 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 a complete blood counts, which makes sure that the blood has the proper number of cells that carry oxygen, liver enzymes, which check liver function and ensure that the 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, which is when a piece of tissue is tested to see if it is cancerous. The diagnostic colonoscopy is the key 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, the cancer can be under-diagnosed or over diagnosed. 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 it is important for a patient to get a second opinion if symptoms persist, or if the patient is uneasy with a physician’s diagnosis. It is also important 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 merits of the case are dependent on the specific situation. Justpoint can help you determine if your circumstance warrants contacting a lawyer.