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Doctors frequently misdiagnose colon cancer in young patients

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2019 | Medical Malpractice

Before you can receive the right treatment, you have to get the right diagnosis. Getting that diagnosis might seem easy enough. You go to the doctor, explain your symptoms, and then the doctor gives you the answers you need. This is not how things work for many patients in Louisiana. Doctors misdiagnose patients quite frequently, including when dealing with serious illnesses like cancer.

Colon cancer is a commonly missed disease. Doctors frequently misdiagnose colon cancer as a number of other diseases, especially when dealing with younger patients. Patients misdiagnosed may face worse outcomes in terms of survival and recovery.

Why do doctors misdiagnose younger patients?

Most people think of colon cancer as an illness that only affects the elderly. However, according to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s director of medical affairs, it is also a cancer that affects many younger people too. A big barrier to treating young patients is that many physicians still do not believe that colon cancer can even show up in young people.

The American Cancer Society conducted a survey of 1,195 young colon cancer patients, asking them when doctors gave them the correct diagnosis. Out of all the respondents, 57% received a diagnosis sometime between 40 and 49 years of age. Another 33% received a diagnosis between 30 and 39. Those under the age of 30 accounted for only about 10% of the survey. This does not mean that young patients do not have colon cancer, but it could indicate the troubles they have when seeking treatment.

Colon cancer is not rare.

In 2017, nearly 40,000 of the approximate 95,520 new cancer diagnoses were for colon cancer. This makes it the third most common type of cancer in the United States. Here are a few common symptoms of colon cancer that you should know about:

  • Constipation
  • Blood in stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Frequent bloating
  • Fatigue, even when active

Doctors should understand just how common colon cancer is, and they must recognize the symptoms in patients of all ages. Sadly, doctors frequently misdiagnose patients who develop colon cancer before turning 50 years old. One gastroenterologist also believes that doctors should speak with their young patients about colon cancer and common symptoms for which to watch out.

A misdiagnosis can be deadly.

When doctors catch cancer early on, it is usually fairly easy to treat. The longer it takes to get the right diagnosis means that patients lose out on valuable time and opportunities to start a treatment plan. This can lead to deadly results.

If a doctor misdiagnosed your cancer or other illness, you could be facing longer treatment times, more medical bills and a less positive prospective outcome. You did not deserve to be in this situation. However, that does not mean there is no hope. Louisiana victims who received a misdiagnosis when seeking medical treatment can choose to seek compensation for their injuries and damages through a medical malpractice suit. Since proving negligence can be complicated, speaking with an experienced attorney at the beginning of the process is usually a good idea.


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