Most people who get colon cancer are fifty or older. However, given the fact that colon cancer can be fatal doctors typically agree that the presence of rectal bleeding, even in an individual under fifty, should be investigated by a colonoscopy to establish if the bleeding is due to a tumor. Simply supposing that the blood is from hemorrhoids falls below the standard of care. Too often physicians do not order a colonoscopy or refer the individual to a specialist when a patient complains of rectal bleeding or blood in the stool. Instead, these physicians simply assume that the blood is the result of hemorrhoids. This is particularly common if the individual is under fifty.
Let’s take a brief look at what far too many people go through. Men and women in their twenties, thirties or forties might start to discover blood in their stool. Maybe there are also other symptoms such as abdominal pain, pain that occurs during a bowel movement, constipation, loose stool or diarrhea. The person informs a physician. Some doctors will refer this person for a colonoscopy without delay to figure out if colon cancer might be causing these symptoms. On the other hand, there are those physicians who not having the benefit of any tests eliminating the possibility of colon cancer nonetheless conclude that the issues are from hemorrhoids often without even confirming that the individual in fact has hemorrhoids. These doctors typically tell the patient that there is nothing to be worried about.
Unfortunately, sometimes this person is subsequently diagnosed with metastasis, meaning that by then is advanced given the delay caused by the physician not performing any tests when the person initially informed the doctor about the blood in the stool. Eventually the person’s symptoms may become significantly worse. In a number of instances the individual may begin to experience unplanned weight loss or may develop anemia from the chronic loss of blood. In still other cases the individual might suffer blockage. This may be very painful and may force the person to go to the emergency room. The issue is that by the time the symptoms get so serious that they can not be ignored and the cancer is at last discovered, it may have metastasized. Once the cancer advances to stage four the 5 year survival rate is estimated at 6 percent. If a matter such as this happens and the individual either has to battle with metastatic cancer or dies because the cancer spread so far that a cure was no longer possible as a consequence of the delay in diagnosis the surviving family may be able to bring a claim against the physician responsible for the delay.
The attorney will take several factors into account when evaluating whether to pursue a potential claim. For instance, there are time limits (generally referred to as Statutes of Limitations) that bar a plaintiff from succeeding on a claim if the plaintiff does not file the claim in court (and take any other required actions within the prescribed amount of time. Also, the standard of care may vary depending on the jurisdiction. What constitutes an injury to the patient in cancer lawsuits also varies by jurisdiction. And obviously, the extent of the metastasis and the amount of delay makes a difference. If the delay was very brief, for example, it is probably going to be very difficult or even impossible to establish that the cancer had not yet metastasized or that the person had a considerably higher probability of surviving the cancer. Just what establishes causation again depends on the jurisdiction. An skilled medical malpractice lawyer can assist the patient or the family determine whether they have a claim.