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Misdiagnosis of Bowel Cancer
What Is Bowel Cancer?
Large bowel cancer is the most common form of bowel cancer; small bowel cancer is far less common. Bowel cancer (also known as rectal, colorectal or colon cancer) specifically effects the lower part of the bowel and the colon. In males it is the third most common cancer after prostate and lung cancer and is the second most common cancer in women after breast cancer. In general bowel cancer isn't diagnosed in under 40s it is most commonly diagnosed in over 65; however it does occur across age groups.
When diagnosed early, there is good survival rate for bowel cancer and very often it can be completely cured. Unfortunately if caught in the late stages, the 5 year survival rate is as low as 6%. Bowel cancer has become diagnosed in the earlier stages more frequently in the past ten years due to a heightened awareness in the public and in doctors of the warning signs of the disease.
How is Bowel Cancer Diagnosed?
The issue with bowel cancer diagnosis is that the symptoms for it mimic those of far less serious and more common disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and haemorrhoids. But warning bells should start ringing in the case that you experience one of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks:
- Blood in your stools: this is the most common symptom and you should visit your GP immediately if you experience this symptom. If the blood is dark or plum-coloured this is particularly characteristic of bowel cancer.
- If your bowel habits significantly change for two weeks or more (this could be constipation, diarrhoea or irregularity)
- A sensation that you need to go to the toilet, immediately after you have already been.
- Abdominal pain or discomfort that lasts for two weeks or more
- Unexplained weight loss
If you experience these symptoms, you must seek advice from your GP. He or she should recognise these health complaints as being indicative of bowel cancer. Suspicion should be further raised if any member of your family has a history of the disease.
A series of examinations should then take place to confirm or rule out the presence of bowel cancer. First, your GP will want to perform a digital rectal examination, whereby a finger is placed gently inside the rectum to check whether a lump can be felt. If there is an inkling that you could be suffering from bowel cancer, you should be referred for further tests such as a sigmoidoscopy and/or a colonoscopy.
Your risk of bowel cancer increases with age and also increases if you do not have enough fibre in your diet. Therefore to reduce your risk of bowel cancer it is advised that you eat fruit and vegetables, do not drink alcohol excessively, lower your saturated fat and red meat intake and try and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
The risk of bowel cancer can also be genetic, if you have a history of bowel cancer in your family ask your GP to ensure a genetic screening test is done to ascertain the genetic risk to yourself. A link has also been proposed between bowel cancer and disorders such as Crohn's disease.
Claiming For Bowel Cancer Misdiagnosis
If you feel that a medical professional has not taken your symptoms seriously enough and it resulted in the unnecessary progression of your cancer, make sure you contact 1st claims today to receive the compensation you rightly deserve.
Go back to find out more about claiming for cancer misdiagnosis.
Delayed Diagnosis of Bowel Cancer
If you are diagnosed with bowel cancer, you will need to undergo further assessment to determine how far advanced the disease is, and whether it has spread to any other parts of the body. This will help doctors devise an appropriate treatment plan. The earlier you are diagnosed the better, as the prospect of making a full recovery is much more probable. Your treatment will also be far less aggressive, with surgery often being sufficient for those with stage 1 bowel cancer.
On the other hand, if there is a delay in diagnosing bowel cancer, the outcome is likely to be less favourable. Occasionally this will happen because the individual concerned is embarrassed about their symptoms and so does not seek medical assistance. However, there are times when a delay in diagnosis can be entirely blamed upon medical error. This may occur, for example, if:-
- A GP fails to recognise the typical symptoms of bowel cancer;
- A GP fails to refer a patient for further tests;
- Tests are performed but the results misinterpreted;
- Administrative errors delayed tests being carried out.
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