Medical Malpractice Cases Involving Colorectal Cancer
Nearly 150,000 Americans will die every year from colon cancer or rectal cancer (hereinafter “colorectal cancer”). However, colorectal cancer is a very treatable cancer if it is detected early. The key to early detection is screening. Indeed, once a patient develops symptoms from colorectal cancer, the cancer is often at a more advanced stage. A physician may be guilty of medical malpractice if the physician fails to recommend screening for patients depending upon the patient’s age and potential risk factors they may have for colorectal cancer. The Chicago medical malpractice lawyer Jason M. Kroot has handled a variety of colorectal cancer cases, including those involving average to high-risk colorectal cancer patients.
Before a patient develops colorectal cancer, the patient first develops an abnormal growth or polyp. A polyp can be detected on physical examination but is more often found during screening such as a colonoscopy. Finding and removing a polyp can prevent patients from developing colorectal cancer.
In assessing when to screen for colorectal cancer, the standard of care requires the physician to take an accurate and complete history of the patient. If the history reveals the patient is at “average risk” for developing colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society and other medical organizations currently recommend, as of 2013, the patient be screened for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50. Setting aside which tests may be most accurate, tests used to screen for polyps or colorectal cancer in average risk patients are typically a colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, double contrast barium enema, and/or CT colonography. Although a digital rectal exam may be included as part of a routine physical examination, this examination is not recommended as a substitute for the previously mentioned colorectal tests.
Some patients are considered at increased risk or even high risk for colorectal cancer. Examples of patients at increased risk for colorectal cancer include patients with a family history of colorectal cancer and people with a high number and/or large polyps. Patients at high risk for colorectal cancer include patients with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis or FAP. Patients at increased or high risk for colorectal cancer must be screened sooner and more often for colorectal cancer. These patients also typically require some form of endoscopic exam like a colonoscopy. Failing to determine that a patient is at increased or high risk for colorectal cancer can constitute medical malpractice. Likewise, failing to timely recommend the proper screen for colorectal cancer in an increased or high-risk colorectal patient can also lead to medical malpractice.
Patients who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer based on symptoms typically have a worse prognosis than those that are diagnosed on screening without symptoms. The symptoms of colorectal cancer can include any one of the following: a change in bowel habits, swollen veins in the anus, abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting, rectal pain, and/or bloody stool.
If you are or a loved suspect a physician or hospital committed medical malpractice in connection with colorectal cancer, it is important to consult a lawyer that has the knowledge, skill, and dedication to properly handle a colorectal cancer cases. For further information, we invite you to contact attorney Jason M. Kroot of Kroot Law for a free and confidential consultation.