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Failure to Diagnose Colorectal Cancer

Failure to Diagnose Colorectal Cancer

If you or your loved one has been affected by a delayed diagnosis of colorectal cancer, get in touch with a solicitor today. If medical professionals failed to identify the tumour, causing you prolonged pain and suffering (and possibly a less favourable prognosis) there will be grounds for a compensation claim.

Diagnosing colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is when cancer develops in the bowel (colon) and the rectum. As the tumour grows, it will lead to symptoms such as:-

  • Blood in your faeces;
  • Changes when opening the bowels, including diarrhoea, constipation and increased frequency;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Unusual weight loss.

If someone is experiencing these symptoms, he or she should waste no time in seeking assistance from their GP. These are typical signs of colorectal cancer and a GP should take steps to verify whether there is indeed a tumour, or whether there is a more minor problem at play (such as piles).

Firstly a GP should perform a digital rectal examination, whereby a finger is placed gently up the anus. If there is a tumour, a GP will often be able to feel a lump. If a patient's symptoms and the digital rectal examination indicate colorectal cancer, an urgent referral must be made for further testing.

These tests will usually take place in hospital or at a specialist cancer centre. A patient will either have a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy. Both involve inserting a thin flexible tube with a camera attached to the end into the anus. This relays images back to a screen, allowing doctors to see any abnormal growths in the rectum or colon.

Failure to diagnose

As long as these steps are taken, it should be possible to diagnose colorectal cancer without too much of a delay. Unfortunately, however, delays do occur. This is often because:-

  • A GP does not recognise the characteristic symptoms of colorectal cancer, instead diagnosing a more minor condition;
  • A GP fails to make a referral for further tests;
  • Doctors fail to accurately assess the results of the colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy test.

If a diagnosis is missed, the consequences can be devastating. Not only will a patient remain in pain, the tumour will be allowed to grow and possibly even spread to other parts of the body. When a diagnosis is finally made, the treatment will be much more extensive than if the problem had been detected in the initial stages. This may make the prognosis less favourable.

Compensation for missed cancer diagnosis

If you have suffered because doctors failed to diagnose colorectal cancer, you could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. This will not undo the damage that has been caused, but it will allow you to seek some form of justice for the negligence you have endured. Contact a solicitor to find out more.

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