When we visit a healthcare professional, we trust them, believing that their knowledge and experience will help us maintain or regain our health. Unfortunately, medical errors can occur, sometimes with devastating results. One area where this is particularly evident is in the realm of diagnostic errors related to colon cancer. These errors can delay treatment, allowing the disease to progress further and reducing the patient's chances of survival.
Defining Colon Cancer
Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. It often begins as small, benign clusters of cells called polyps that form inside the colon. Over time, some of these polyps can turn into colon cancers.
Defining Diagnostic Errors
Diagnostic errors can take several forms. The most common is a delayed diagnosis, where doctors fail to recognize the symptoms of colon cancer in a timely manner. Symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, persistent changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, and fatigue should prompt further investigation.
Another form of diagnostic error is a misdiagnosis, which occurs when a doctor incorrectly identifies the problem as something other than colon cancer. For example, the symptoms of colon cancer can be similar to those of other digestive diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome or diverticulitis. If a doctor mistakenly diagnoses a patient with one of these conditions instead of colon cancer, the cancer may continue to grow undetected.
Diagnostic Errors Aftermath
The impact of these diagnostic errors can be profound. The earlier colon cancer is detected and treated, the better the patient's prognosis. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for localized colon cancer (cancer that has not spread outside the colon) is about 90%. However, for patients with cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, the five-year survival rate drops to about 14%.
So what can be done to prevent diagnostic errors? Firstly, patients should be their own advocates. If you are experiencing symptoms that worry you, insist on further testing. Secondly, healthcare professionals should adhere to guidelines for colon cancer screening. The American Cancer Society recommends regular screening for people at average risk starting at age 45.
Lastly, when diagnostic errors do occur, it's important to hold healthcare providers accountable. This not only provides compensation for those who have been harmed by these errors but also serves as a deterrent for future mistakes.
Let Simonson Goodman Platzer PC Be There For You
At Simonson Goodman Platzer PC, we understand the pain and frustration that come with a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of colon cancer. Our team is committed to seeking justice for patients and their families who have been affected by these errors. While we cannot undo the damage caused by a diagnostic error, we can help ensure that those responsible are held accountable.
Remember, your health is your most valuable asset. Don't let a diagnostic error rob you of your chance to fight against colon cancer. Be persistent, ask questions, and seek legal help from Simonson Goodman Platzer PC.