Colon Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuits

A colon cancer misdiagnosis can happen either when cancerous tissue is identified as normal tissue, or when normal tissue is thought to be cancerous. A failure to diagnose colorectal cancer properly can delay treatment or lead to nonessential surgery, often at significant expense and with unnecessary pain and suffering. A colon cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit can help patients and their families recover costs related to misdiagnosis.

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Why File a Colon Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer for both men and women (not including skin cancers), and in 2019, there will be a projected 145,000 new colorectal cancer cases. For these individuals, detecting the cancer and starting treatment as soon as possible is imperative to have a fighting chance at long-term survival.

Unfortunately, some cases will also go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed as some other condition. According to multiple studies, some colorectal cancer tests can fail to diagnose the cancer as often as one-fifth to one-half of the time. A recent survey by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) showed that the colon cancer misdiagnosis rate may be even higher for people below the age of 50, even if they exhibit strong symptoms.

Colon Cancer, Rectal Cancer & Colorectal Cancer

  • Colon cancer is cancer that develops in the colon, also called the large intestine.
  • Rectal cancer is cancer that develops in the rectum, which joins the last section of the colon (the sigmoid colon) to the anus.
  • Colon cancer and rectal cancers often have similar symptoms and characteristics.
  • Treatment for each cancer is usually similar, depending on the stage.
  • Colorectal cancer can refer to both colon cancer or rectal cancer, or to either one individually.

If you suffered due to either a colon cancer misdiagnosis or a rectal cancer misdiagnosis, you should talk to a lawyer to see if you have a viable medical malpractice case.

As with every form of cancer, the 5-year survival rate for colon cancer is much higher when caught at an early stage (90% for localized tumors) than when caught at a later stage (14% after metastasis). Delayed detection often leads to a need for more aggressive therapy, including surgeries or other treatments that otherwise would have been unnecessary.

Patients who experience a wrong or missed cancer diagnosis are robbed of an opportunity to fight for the best chance of survival. Others are affected, too, as family and friends often need to take off work and take on new expenses to care for their loved. If the misdiagnosis is due to negligence or other medical malpractice, the patient or their surviving family members may be able to file a lawsuit to receive compensation that will cover these extra costs.

Who Should Get Colon Cancer Screenings?
Colorectal cancer screenings are not recommended for everyone. For adults of average risk, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) offers age-based screening guidelines for colon cancer and rectal cancer.

Statutes of Limitations by State

Colon Cancer Screening Recommendations
Age Range Who Should Be Screened
50 – 75 All Adults
76 – 85
  • Adults who have never been screened for colorectal cancer
  • Adults who are healthy enough to undergo treatment if colon cancer is detected
  • Adults who do not have comorbid conditions that would limit life expectancy

Doctors who fail to order screening tests for their patients based on these recommendations could be held liable for negligence or another form of malpractice.

Colorectal Screening Tests

There are a variety of colon cancer screening tests available. Because none of these tests are perfect, a screening strategy that combines several tests is often recommended.

Stool-Based Tests: There are two categories of stool-based tests, guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) and fecal immunochemical tests (FIT). FIT tests generally are better at testing for colon cancer, and a newer variation known as FIT-DNA has shown promise in detecting colon cancer even better. Stool-based tests should be given every year to adults within the screening age range.

Direct Visualization Tests: Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy are similar tests that use a medical device called an endoscope to view the sigmoid colon (sigmoidoscopy) or the large intestine (colonoscopy). While both procedures are relatively safe, they can sometimes lead to severe side effects/adverse events. Another form of visual testing uses CT scans (CT colonography), but the benefit and effectiveness of this type of screening is not as well understood, especially as it can lead to other unnecessary diagnostic tests or procedures. Because CT colonography is less invasive, however, it may be used in place of a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, if those tests present too much risk for a patient. Direct visualization tests are recommended every 10 years for sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy and every 5 years for CT colonography.

Your doctor should develop a colon cancer screening strategy based on your specific needs and circumstances, and then follow through with ordering tests as they are needed.

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Colon Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit FAQs

Can I File a Colon Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?

Colon cancer misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can lead to a legitimate legal claim. If you or a loved one had colorectal cancer that went undiagnosed longer than it should have been, a personal injury claim or wrongful death claim could be available, depending on the specifics of your case.

Some late colon cancer diagnoses may not be eligible for a lawsuit, especially if you wait too long to file suit. If your doctor missed a recommended screening or signs of potential cancer, you should talk with a lawyer right away to learn about your legal rights.

How Much Compensation Is Available for Colon Cancer Lawsuits?

No two cancer misdiagnosis cases are the same. The types of legal damages that may come into play for your case will depend on various factors. Some common types of compensatory damages awarded include:

  • Medical costs (surgery, medications, hospital bills, etc.)
  • Physical therapy or check-ups after treatment
  • Lost income for time you could not work
  • Pain and suffering, including emotional or mental distress

In cases where a doctor was clearly negligent or malicious, punitive damages could also be awarded to dissuade similar behavior in the future. Your lawyer will be able to advise you as to the types of damages that will be available in your case.

How Much Do Colon Cancer Lawyers Cost?

Personal injury lawyers that specialize in cancer misdiagnosis cases will accept clients on contingency. This means you will not need to make any payments out of pocket in order to file your legal claim. Instead, legal costs will come out of any compensation your lawyer helps you recover, such as a favorable verdict or settlement.

During your free case review, you should discuss your financial options with you lawyer.

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