Doctors failing to diagnose colorectal cancer in younger people

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Aug 01, 2012 in Doctor Errors

Even as the overall rates of colorectal cancer in West Virginia and the United States have declined over the last two-plus decades, the rates for people under the age of 50 have been going up. Why this is happening isn't exactly clear to anyone, although some have suggested that poor eating habits, obesity, genetic and environmental factors, and lack of exercise may be part of the puzzle.

What does seem clear is that the increased incidence of this disease among younger people (particularly those in their 40s) has led to a corresponding rise in the number of failures to diagnose this disease in younger patients, and more medical malpractice lawsuit s as well.

Part of the reason for this is that the medical community's own guidelines generally suggest that doctors screen people older than 50 for the disease but only screen younger patients who have a family history of the disease or who are exhibiting signs of cancer. Unfortunately, even when younger patients show warning signs of colorectal cancer, doctors frequently misdiagnose those symptoms as being caused by some type of medical condition other than cancer.

As with most forms of cancer, the failure to diagnose colorectal cancer in its early stages can have devastating consequences for patients. It can eliminate many less invasive and harsh treatment options. It can mean a significantly worse prognosis for a patient's long-term survival. It can also be a death sentence.

Because this area of medical malpractice law is challenging and highly technical, anyone who believes they may have been harmed by a doctor's failure to diagnose this type of cancer or any other should speak to an attorney who has experience with these cases as soon as possible.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "More younger people getting colorectal cancer," Andrea K. Walker, July 29, 2012

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