If a Doctor Tells You You Simply Have Hemorrhoids, You May Not Find Out You Have Colon Cancer Until It Has Metastasized

 By: J. Hernandez
The very use of the phrase "colon cancer" tends to raise dread in nearly all of us. It can thus feel highly reassuring to have your doctor say that you simply have hemorrhoids and there is no need to be anxious about the blood in your stool. But this reassurance should only come after the physician has ruled out the possibility of colon cancer (and other potentially dangerous gastrointestinal problems). Otherwise, you may not find out that you have colon cancer before it is too late. Should a physician decide without testing assumes that complaints of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding by a patient are due to hemorrhoids and it later is discovered that the patient had colon cancer all along, that physician might not have met the standard of care and the patient may be able to pursue a lawsuit against that physician.

Over 10 million people have hemorrhoids and another 1,000,000 new incidents of hemorrhoids will probably occur this year. In contrast, a little over the 100 thousand new incidents of colon cancer that will be detected this year. Further, colon cancers do not always. When they do, the bleeding could be intermittent. Also subject to where the cancer is in the colon, the blood may not even be visible in the stool. Maybe it is simply as a result of the difference in the quantity of cases being identified that a number of physicians simply assume that the presence of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding is due to hemorrhoids. This amounts to playing the odds. A doctor who reaches this conclusion will be right more than ninety percent of the time. It appears realistic, doesn't it? The problem, however, is that if the doctor is inaccurate in this diagnosis, the patient might not discover he or she has colon cancer before it has progressed to an advanced stage, possibly even to the point where it is no longer treatable.

In the event colon cancer is found while still contained within the colon, the individual's chances of surviving the cancer are above eighty percent. The five year survival rate is a statistical guage of the percentage of patients who survive the disease for at least 5 years subsequent to diagnosis. Treatment protocols for early stage colon cancer generally requires just surgery to remove the cancerous growth and adjacent areas of the colon. Based on factors like the stage of the cancer and the patient's medical history (including family medical history), how old the person is, and the person's physical condition, chemotherapy may or may not be necessary.

This is why physicians typically advise that a colonoscopy ought to be ordered right away if someone has blood in the stool or rectal bleeding. A colonoscopy is a procedure that uses a flexible tube with a camera on the end is employed to see the interior of the colon. In the event that something is discovered during the procedure, it may be possible to remove it immediately should it not be very big. In any case, it will be biopsied to check for cancer. Only if no cancer is detected from the colonoscopy can colon cancer be ruled out as a cause of the blood.

But, if the cancer is not diagnosed until it has spread past the colon and has reached the lymph nodes, the patient's 5 year survival rate will normally be around 53%. Aside from surgery to take out the tumor and surrounding portions of the colon treatment for this stage of colon cancer entails chemotherapy in an effort to eliminate any cancer that may remain in the body. When the cancer reaches other organs such as the liver, lungs, or brain, the person's 5 year survival rate is lowered to close to eight percent. If treatment options exist for a patient at this point, they may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other medications. Treatment may or may not still be helpful once the cancer is this advanced. When treatment stops being effective, colon cancer is fatal. This year, about forty eight thousand individuals will pass away in the U.S. from metastatic colon cancer.

By diagnosing complaints of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding as resulting from hemorrhoids without performing the correct tests to eliminate the possibility of colon cancer, a doctor puts the patient at risk of not learning he or she has colon cancer until it reaches an advanced, possibly no longer treatable, stage. This might amount to a departure from the accepted standard of medical care and might bring about a medical malpractice case.

If you or a family member were assured by a physician that blood in the stool or rectal bleeding were because of only hemorrhoids, and have since been diagnosed with advanced colon cancer, you should consult an attorney without delay. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal (or medical) advice. For any medical issues you should seek advice from doctor. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information contained herein but should rather consult with an attorney. A competent attorney with experience in medical malpractice may be able to help you determine if you have a claim for a delay in the diagnosis of the colon cancer. Immediately consult with an attorney are there is a time limit in cases such as these.
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