There is good reason to be informed about colon cancer. Colon cancer is the fourth most prevalent type of cancer in the U.S. and currently kills approximately 50,000 Americans a year, but it can be curable if caught early.
Keeping a close eye on changes in one’s health, being diligent with screening and finding a doctor that listens to all concerns and takes appropriate action are extremely important steps. In recent years there has been a decrease in deaths due to colorectal cancers because of increased awareness and testing. Having all of the information on this deadly disease can greatly increase one’s chances of survival if symptoms should arise.
The good news about colon cancer is that is tends to advance slowly. It begins as a polyp on the colon, which can be pre-cancerous and then cancerous, invading the first couple of layers of the colon. Once it has worked its way through the colon it spreads to the lymph nodes and lastly to other organs.
There are several changes in one’s body function that can be early indicators of colon cancer. Most symptoms involve a change in bowel habits. Blood in the stool (particularly black and tarry looking) is a common issue, as are increased diarrhea or constipation, cramps, gas pains and bloating, unexplained weight loss and fatigue, nausea and vomiting and a feeling that the bowel has not completely emptied.
Some people fail to see a doctor when they see these symptoms because they either feel that the symptoms are due to another issue, or they think that because they are not in pain, there is no serious cause for concern. In truth, these symptoms can be indicative of many other medical issues too, but should always be reported to a doctor so that they can be thoroughly investigated.
It is of course, very important to relay any concerns to one’s doctor, but regular colon cancer screening is also imperative. Because this disease occurs most often in people over 50, the American Cancer Society recommends having a procedure called a colonoscopy at age 50 and then every five to 10 years after that if the results are normal. For anyone with a family history, the advisement is to have the test done 10 years before reaching the age that the relative was diagnosed.
A colonoscopy is a painless procedure where a camera on a scope is passed through the large intestine, while the patient is under sedation. Polyps found during the procedure are sometimes removed at that time, so the procedure itself has the potential to sometimes cure the disease.
Though patients need to be proactive about their health and diligent about reporting concerns, doctors too, need to be insistent about screening. They also have a responsibility to take patients’ medical concerns seriously and order proper testing. A failure to diagnose colon cancer can be a deadly mistake and lead to medical malpractice.
If you or a loved one has been affected by a physician’s failure to diagnose colon cancer, you should speak to a qualified cancer misdiagnosis lawyer. Please fill out our free case evaluation form to tell us about your situation today.