It is estimated that less than 1% of those diagnosed with colon cancer are younger than thirty-five. Yet, given the lethal nature of the disease physicians usually acknowledge that the presence of rectal bleeding, even in someone under 35, needs to be investigated by a colonoscopy so as to figure out if the bleeding from cancer.. Merely supposing that the blood is the result of hemorrhoids does not meet the standard of care.
Take, for example, what occurred in a documented lawsuit regarding a woman who complained to her primary care physician that she saw blood in her stool and experienced pain when having bowel movements. She was just 24. The doctor, just\without even performing an examination, told her to take a laxative after deciding that she had diarrhea and other bowel issues. She returned four months later claiming she had constipation, pain and problems sitting. On this occasion the physician at last examined her but assured her she had hemorrhoids. The doctor recommended an enema. She saw that physician on 2 additional occassions and each time was reassured that her symptoms were due to hemorrhoids and she had nothing to be concerned with.
She had to be rushed to an emergency room complaining of extreme pain 7 months after her original visit to the family physician. They set her up for a colonoscopy through which she was diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer. The woman had surgery (which because of the how far the cancer had advanced required not only removal of a portion of her colon, it also required removal of her uterus and a portion of the lower intestines). This was followed by chemotherapy. She subsequently had a recurrence and passed away from the disease not even three years after. Her husband and minor daughter survived her.
The law firm that handled this claim documented that the matter went to trail and the jury awarded the family a sum of $ 2.5 million. The award included the maximum of $ 350,000 allowed for pain and suffering by the law of the State where the physician practices. The remainder of the amount was for future lost wages. This claim illustrates what may be the most prevalent medical error concerning the delayed diagnosis of colon cancer.
Too often doctors do not perform a colonoscopy or send the individual to a specialist when a person reports rectal bleeding or blood in the stool. Rather, these physicians merely assume that the symptom is due to hemorrhoids. This is especially common if the individual is less than 50 years old.
When a situation like the one described above happens and the patient passes away due to the fact the cancer spread to the point of not being curable due to the delay in diagnosis the surviving family might be able to bring a case against the doctor responsible for the delay.