Colorectal cancer, cancer of the rectum or colon, is the third most-common type of cancer in the United States, as well as one of the most lethal. According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 2014 to 2018, there were 21,634 new cases of colorectal cancer in the state of New Jersey and 7,585 deaths. The Northern New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys at Buttafuoco & Associates have significant experience in medical malpractice cases, and the unfortunate reality is that with proper diagnosis and swift medical intervention, many of these deaths could have been prevented. In fact, many diseases have similar symptoms, making misdiagnosis surprisingly common. I’ll discuss the specifics of medical misdiagnosis for colon cancer below, as well as when it may be in your best interests to seek legal help.
Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose
One of the most common reasons that colorectal cancer goes untreated is that it shares symptoms with several other common diseases, leading to frequent misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose the cancer on the part of the healthcare provider. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
Among the most common diseases that share these symptoms are Irritable Bowel Syndrome, hemorrhoids, and Crohn’s Disease. Because the symptoms are so similar, medical misdiagnosis or a complete failure to diagnose colon cancer is all too common.
However, just because your cancer was misdiagnosed does not necessarily mean you have a case. Your doctor’s diagnosis must have been negligent in order to have a lawsuit, which means that they acted more carelessly than another doctor with the same qualifications would have acted. Additionally, their negligence must have directly resulted in harm to you as the patient. For obvious reasons, negligence can be incredibly difficult to prove.
If you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed, Buttafuoco & Associates recommends consulting with a Northern New Jersey medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Filing a lawsuit early is one of the best ways to ensure that you are able to pay for necessary medical treatments and care.
Another situation that often causes problems when it comes to colon cancer diagnosis is when a diagnosis comes too late. At this point, the cancer may have progressed to a more advanced stage where treatment options are sparse and survival rates are lower. Even if a doctor detects colon cancer, it is possible that they are guilty of what a medical malpractice lawyer serving Northern New Jersey would refer to as delayed diagnosis.
If your disease is not diagnosed promptly enough, it can lead to treatments that are more expensive, painful, or intensive. Unfortunately, insurance will not always cover the cost of all treatments, in which case your doctor may be liable for your expenses. Delayed diagnosis can also potentially result in the patient’s death, in which case their family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Again, negligence must be proven in these cases, so it is in your best interests to work with a qualified attorney if you suspect that your doctor may be guilty of delayed diagnosis.
Other Types of Malpractice
Even if you undergo the proper tests to catch your colorectal cancer, there is still no guarantee that you will be properly diagnosed. Many of these tests require proper implementation and interpretation from the healthcare provider, including not only your doctor, but also CT and lab technicians. Healthcare is complex and often requires big teams of people and lots of technology, and each diagnostic step potentially leaves the door open for misdiagnosis. Whatever the situation, you can reach out to Buttafuoco & Associates for a free consultation with a Northern New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer. We can answer your questions, discuss your legal rights, and let you know if you have a case.
How to Detect Colorectal Cancer Early
Even if you are ultimately diagnosed with another one of the diseases mentioned above, screening regularly is one of the best ways to ensure that you catch colon cancer early. There are several effective tests for colorectal cancer, and each method of testing has its own pros and cons, including convenience, preparation, cost, and—most importantly—accuracy. These are some common tests to detect colorectal cancer:
- Colonoscopy: This exam is when a doctor uses a camera on a flexible tube to visually inspect the large intestine. While the most invasive, it is among the most accurate.
- Stool DNA test: This test looks for DNA abnormalities in your stool; often this test is conducted every three years and is designed to track DNA changes over time.
- Fecal occult blood test: Also known as a fecal immunochemical test, this test looks for hidden blood in the stool.
- Virtual Colonoscopy: Like the colonoscopy, this exam is a visual inspection of the colon. However, a CT scan is used instead of a physical camera.
Get in touch with a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer and you are concerned that your doctor may have acted negligently, don’t hesitate to contact Buttafuoco & Associates. We believe in treating each and every client we work with like family, and will handle all of the details of your lawsuit for you so you can focus on your health.
Call us today for a free case review at 1-800-NOW-HURT.