Facing a cancer diagnosis is always terrifying, but when the condition isn’t discovered until a late stage because of a missed diagnosis, the anguish is compounded by the knowledge that a physician you trusted with your care failed to properly diagnose the cancer at its earliest stage. Missing a diagnosis during the first stage leads to the advancement of the disease to a metastasized stage with a lower survival rate and more invasive treatment requirements.
If a Phoenix area doctor missed a diagnosis due to failure to recognize symptoms, failure to order the proper diagnostic tests, or failure to obtain a thorough family history, it’s more than a simple error—it literally makes the difference between life and death.
If you or a loved one suffered the harm of advanced colon cancer due to an Arizona doctor’s failure to provide an acceptable standard of care, you deserve compensation for the horrific damages that result, including both economic and non-economic damages. The medical malpractice lawyers at the Phoenix, Arizona law firm of Knapp & Roberts have an over 20-year history of successful medical malpractice claims, including securing compensation for colon cancer patients or their loved ones left behind. When a doctor misdiagnoses colon cancer, allowing it to advance to a less treatable stage, they are liable for damages.
What is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer—also called colorectal cancer—begins in the colon, large intestine, or rectum, which is the bottom 6 inches of the large intestine. Colon cancer begins with the unusual growth of cells on the inner lining of the colon which develop into a polyp. Some types of polyps remain benign indefinitely, while others go on to develop cancerous cells and become tumors. As a malignant tumor grows, it invades the walls of the intestine, gaining access to blood vessels and the lymphatic system where cells then migrate to lymph nodes and spread to other organs. Colon cancer often spreads to the liver, but also to the lungs, brain, and abdominal cavity.
Staging for colon cancer is as follows:
Stage 1 colon cancer means the tumor has not spread outside of the colon. It is curable through surgery to remove the affected portion of the colon. Whether or not treatment requires chemotherapy depends on the type of cancer cells identified in pathology. The survival rate for stage 1 colon cancer is 90%.
Stage 2 colon cancer is cancer that has spread outside of the colon but has not yet invaded the lymph nodes.
Stage 3 colon cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes. While it’s still treatable, the survival rate in stage 3 drops to 70%.
When colon cancer metastasizes to distant lymph nodes and/or organs, it’s reached stage 4. The survival rate at this stage drops to 10-13%.
It’s of vital importance for colon cancer to be caught in stage one or while still a benign polyp.
If you’ve experienced symptoms and sought a medical opinion but your cancer was misdiagnosed or remained undiagnosed until it advanced, you could have a viable claim against the provider who failed to diagnose the cancer during its most treatable stage.
Screenings and Early Warning Signs of Colon Cancer
The most effective way to catch colon cancer at its earliest and most curable stage is through routine cancer screenings. Doctors should begin suggesting regular cancer screenings to their patients beginning at age 50. The typical screening method is through a colonoscopy which gives doctors the ability to visually examine the inside of the colon to search for polyps. Often they remove any polyps they find and send them to pathology to test for the presence of cancer cells.
It may be easy to miss the early warning signs of colon cancer, which may be mistaken for more common maladies. Signs include:
Changes in bowel habits or stool consistency
A feeling that you can’t completely empty the colon during a bowel movement
Unexplained weight loss
Weakness and fatigue
Blood in the stool
Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer. Sadly, it’s also frequently misdiagnosed as other illnesses in Arizona and elsewhere. A Phoenix colon cancer lawyer can help you understand your right to compensation for the harm caused by a missed or delayed colon cancer diagnosis.
Why Are Some Colon Cancers Misdiagnosed?
Sadly, an alarming number of cancer cases remain undiagnosed in Phoenix and other regions until they’ve reached an advanced stage with metastasis that causes other symptoms. Some of the most common reasons for a missed or delayed diagnosis include the following:
Doctors may not properly screen younger patients for colon cancer even when they present with symptoms
A doctor might diagnose bloody stool as hemorrhoid complications
Symptoms may be misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, or diverticulitis
Younger patients are most at risk for a missed colon cancer diagnosis or a misdiagnosis. A recent study revealed that most colon cancer patients over age 50 are diagnosed in the disease’s early stages, while younger cancer patients are often left undiagnosed until stages 3 and 4 when the prognosis is much less hopeful. Some young patients report visiting multiple doctors and reporting key symptoms before a doctor finally requested the correct diagnostic tests.
If you or a loved one experienced a doctor who failed to request the proper tests despite your complaints of key symptoms of colon cancer, you can file a claim for damages.
Do I Have Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Claim for a Missed Colon Cancer Diagnosis?
If a doctor initially missed properly diagnosing your colon cancer or that of a loved one, you deserve compensation. A doctor is liable for a malpractice claim if they failed to treat you according to the accepted standards of the medical community. By not requesting the proper tests or misdiagnosing colon cancer as another illness the medical provider has committed a negligent act and breached the duty of care they owed to you. If that breach directly caused your cancer to have a delayed diagnosis that allowed it to spread and advance, the doctor is liable for the damages.
Why Choose Knapp & Roberts as Your Phoenix Colon Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers?
At Knapp and Roberts, we have compassion for those suffering the anguish of a colon cancer diagnosis complicated by delayed diagnosis through the fault of a liable physician. We will diligently investigate every aspect of your case to identify the liable party, gather evidence to show that they failed to treat you or your loved ones to the acceptable level of care that any reasonable provider would have in the same circumstances, and evaluate the amount of damages you’ve suffered. We have a strong history of success in this type of medical malpractice claim, helping our clients to gain the maximum compensation for the following damages:
Medical expenses and future expenses for ongoing treatment
Lost wages and future lost wages
Pain and suffering
Wrongful death in cases of a missed or delayed diagnosis of colon cancer resulting in the death of a loved one. Wrongful death lawsuits can also help families to recover funeral costs, lost earnings for the remainder of years the loved one would have worked, and lost benefits such as healthcare and retirement.
While monetary damages can’t turn back the clock to an earlier diagnosis, compensation can open doors to the best medical treatment, relieve financial burdens, and aid family members in moving forward.
Call the Phoenix medical malpractice lawyers at Knapp & Roberts today for a free evaluation of your case and let our diligent, compassionate team begin strategizing a compelling claim for the maximum compensation for your damages.
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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.