Updated May 30, 2020

Has Your Colorectal Cancer Been Misdiagnosed?

Colorectal or intestinal cancers occur in the lower part of the digestive system, either in the colon or the large intestine. These types of cancers are particularly aggressive, and early treatment provides a patient with higher chances of survival.

However, it’s possible that cancer can be misdiagnosed—meaning another condition diagnosed as cancer, putting you and your family through emotional stress and needless or ineffective treatment. If you believe your colorectal cancer was misdiagnosed, seek legal counsel from a qualified medical malpractice attorney. We’re here to help.

What Are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer patients can experience different symptoms depending on the size and location of the cancer. Complicating diagnosis is the fact that early stages of colon cancer are often asymptomatic—patients might not realize that they’re sick until the disease has already progressed. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.

Colon cancer symptoms can include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Change in stool size, shape, or consistency
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal discomfort, whether it takes the form of gas, cramps, or other pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent fatigue or weakness

Colon cancer can be detected with either a colonoscopy or a computerized tomography (CT) scan. These tests look for visible signs of change in the intestines.

How Can Colon Cancer Be Misdiagnosed?

The symptoms of colon cancer are varied, and so are the different diagnoses. A doctor’s error in looking over medical test results or not considering all the possible diseases could result in a colon cancer patient being misdiagnosed with a disease or vice versa. This error can result in not diagnosing the patient promptly or failing to diagnose any health problems at all.

An incorrect diagnosis can allow a disease to progress and can limit or dramatically change treatment options. Cancers that progress too far can’t be treated with laparoscopic surgery, for instance, and patients who are misdiagnosed will likely need additional surgeries, have to go through more chemotherapy or radiation, and stand a higher chance of having their cancer come back. In some cases, the results can be fatal.

There are a number of diseases or health problems with symptoms that overlap with colorectal cancers. Seeking a second opinion on any diagnosis is important to ensure you’re getting the medical treatment that you need.

Other diseases that may be misdiagnosed as cancer, or diagnosed instead of cancer, include the following:

  • Fecal incontinence
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Non-cancerous colon polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease
  • Peritonitis
  • Uremia
  • Intestinal ischemia
  • Celiac disease
  • Other types of cancer, like Kaposi sarcoma or stomach cancer

These conditions require very different treatments, and some might not have treatments or cures available. There’s a difference between an infection and a chronic condition, and they are not treated the same way as colon cancer.

If you’re experiencing symptoms despite receiving treatment for one of these conditions, it’s important to talk to someone who specializes in colon cancer. If it turns out that your doctor misdiagnosed your colon cancer—or that you were getting treatment for a disease you never had—it might be time to talk to a medical malpractice attorney.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

For colorectal cancers, early and accurate detection is crucial for a good prognosis. When a doctor’s negligence results in a missed, delayed, or incorrect diagnosis, it can be the difference between life and death.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, contact an Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorney from Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you build a case and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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