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Cases of colorectal cancer are rising among patients under 55, yet it is being frequently misdiagnosed in this same age group. Iowa residents should know that the symptoms of colorectal cancer can be mistaken for those of other conditions. They include nausea and vomiting, gas pains, constipation, blood in one’s stool, chronic fatigue and sudden weight loss.

The American Cancer Society has seen fit to lower the recommended age at which one should undergo a colorectal cancer screening from 50 to 45. Screening options range from fecal tests to colonoscopies. Yet many patients, unfamiliar with the symptoms of colorectal cancer, are not being screened. The doctors they see tend not to suspect cancer either.

The American Association for Cancer Research presented the results of a study involving 1,195 colorectal cancer patients and survivors aged 20 to 49. Of these, 57 percent were diagnosed in their 40s, a third in their 30s and only 10 percent before their 30s. While most of those diagnosed over the age of 50 have cancer in its early stages, 71 percent of these younger patients say they were found to have stage 3 or 4 cancer.

Sixty-three percent waited three to 12 months before seeing their doctor. Sixty-seven percent said they had to see at least two physicians before they received a correct diagnosis of colon or rectal cancer.

If doctor negligence is clearly behind a misdiagnosis, those who are injured through the mistake may want to file a malpractice claim. Such claims can typically cover losses like the cost of unnecessary treatments, income lost during physical recovery and pain and suffering that patients experience. This is where having legal counsel may be advantageous. A lawyer may hire third parties to investigate the matter before heading to negotiations. If a settlement cannot be reached, victims may litigate.