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Medical Negligence
Missed Rectal Cancer

Missed Rectal Cancer

If your rectal cancer was missed by medical practitioners, even though you sought assistance for your symptoms, you could be entitled to pursue a medical negligence compensation claim. Contact a solicitor to find out more.

Diagnosing rectal cancer

The process of diagnosing rectal cancer usually begins at the GP surgery. In a typical case, a patient will begin to experience the symptoms of rectal cancer and seek advice from their general practitioner. These symptoms include:-

  • Blood in the stools;
  • A change in normal bowel habits that persists such as constipation or diarrhoea;
  • Unexplained weight loss;
  • Pain in the abdomen and/or rectum;
  • Fatigue;
  • A bloated feeling.

If a patient presents with these symptoms, a GP should perform a digital rectal examination to see if there are any lumps or abnormalities. A blood test can also be performed to check for anaemia, which is when someone has a low number of red blood cells.

If the symptoms and examination give any indication that cancer could be present, a patient should be sent for further tests. Suspicions should be especially raised if the patient is over 50 and/or has a family history of rectal cancer.

During an appointment with a specialist, it is likely that another rectal examination will be performed. A sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy will then be carried out. This allows the specialist to look inside the rectum and bowel, and to take a biopsy for testing. This should enable doctors to either confirm the presence of rectal cancer, or to rule it out as a possible diagnosis.

Missed rectal cancer

Sadly, however, there are times when doctor do not diagnose rectal cancer, even though a patient has sought help regarding their symptoms. This can happen for any number of reasons, such as:-

  • A GP does not recognise a patient's symptoms as being indicative of rectal cancer and so does not refer a patient for further tests;
  • Further tests are performed but abnormalities are not detected on the colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy images;
  • A GP fails to re-refer a patient for further rectal cancer tests, even though their symptoms do not alleviate and no other explanation can be found.
  • .

A missed diagnosis of rectal cancer will be extremely problematic as the prognosis usually depends upon how early treatment is provided. If treated in the early stages, a patient stands a good chance of making a 100% recovery. But if there is a delay in diagnosis, the cancer will be given time to spread, making it more difficult to treat.

If you or your loved one has suffered because of a delayed diagnosis of rectal cancer, and you believe medical error is to blame, please get in touch with us today. You could be entitled to pursue legal action against those responsible.

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