Damages From Failure to Diagnose Rectal Cancer
Rectal cancer forms inside a portion of the large intestine. The first five feet of the large intestine is called the colon. The rectum makes up the last six inches of the large intestine. The rectum is where the body stores stool until you have a bowel movement. Cancers found in the two organs are often grouped as colorectal cancer.
Rectal cancer frequently develops slowly over time. It usually begins as a small abnormal growth known as a polyp on the rectum's inner lining. Some polyps can develop into cancer. If not treated, cancer can spread to other organs, most commonly the liver and lungs. In a small percentage of cases, rectal cancer is caused by genetic factors that can be passed down from parents to children.
Even though rectal cancer is common, well-known, and preventable, doctors frequently fail to detect it early enough to intervene effectively and stop its spread in their patients. If you have advanced rectal cancer because of a doctor's failure to diagnose, consult with the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano to see if medical malpractice occurred. We help clients throughout Upstate New York, with offices in multiple convenient locations. Our extensive experience in the medical malpractice field is reflected in the results we have achieved for our clients.
In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women. Every year, approximately 145,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, with 44,000 of them having rectal cancer.
It is also one of the most easily avoidable types of cancer. A colonoscopy is the preferred colorectal cancer screening method. Polyps are detected using this procedure. These abnormal tissue growths in the colon and rectum can develop into cancer. Polyps can also be removed during a colonoscopy before they become cancerous. A colonoscopy will be performed if rectal cancer is suspected. A small piece of tissue is removed for examination for signs of cancer. A pathologist examines this sample under a microscope. Regular polyp screening, even if you have no symptoms of the disease, can prevent colorectal cancer entirely. It can take 10 to 15 years for polyps to develop into cancer, so if they are discovered before they become cancerous, they can be removed and avoided entirely. Furthermore, if colorectal cancer has developed, it is easily cured in its early stages. Failure to diagnose cancer is malpractice, and those who suffer as a result have a right to compensation.
Despite this knowledge, doctors fail to screen for colon and rectal cancer. Historically the standard of care for screening for cancer was age 50, however, due to the increased prevalence of this cancer it is now recommended that regular cancer screening start at age 45. Furthermore, if you have a family history of polyps or cancer, or if you have any other risk factors, your doctor may even need to have you screened sooner. Medical malpractice can also occur as a result of gastroenterologists not performing a colonoscopy correctly, by failing to remove polyps, or missing cancer during the procedure. Cancer develops as a result of not timely removing the polyps, killing over 50,000 people each year.
Both rectal cancer and colon cancer can cause the same symptoms and are usually diagnosed with a colonoscopy. However, treatment for colon cancer and rectal cancer may differ. The most common treatment for colon cancer is surgery. A surgeon can operate on the belly because it is a relatively large and open space. Rectal cancer is frequently also treated surgically, often in conjunction with other therapies. However, surgery on the rectum can be more difficult. It is surrounded by pelvic bones, and the area around the rectum is more crowded. The rectum is located very close to the bladder, as well as the vagina and uterus in women and the prostate in men. Tumors in the lower rectum may also be near the anal sphincter muscle, which is necessary for normal bathroom use. All of these factors can have an impact on rectal cancer treatment options.
Rectal cancer does not always cause symptoms in its early stages. As a result, it is recommended that you get regular colorectal cancer screenings based on your age, medical history, and other risk factors. Some rectal cancer symptoms should not be ignored, such as significant changes in bowel habits that last more than a few days. If you are under the age of 45 and have not been screened for colorectal cancer, it is critical that you do not ignore any symptoms. However, there has recently been a concerning increase in colorectal cancer among people as young as their twenties and thirties who have no family history or risk factors for colorectal cancer.
Many factors influence your risk of rectal cancer. Some of them are under your control, including diet, exercise, tobacco, and alcohol use. Some of those factors are not under your control, such as your age. The older you are, the more likely you are to develop rectal cancer. Additionally, having a prior personal history of polyps and inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, having a family history of colorectal and related cancers, as well as inherited disorders such as Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis genetics are other risk factors that are not under your control. About 5–10% of colorectal cancer is caused by genetic factors passed down from parents to children. Colorectal cancer is usually curable if detected early enough.
If you are diagnosed with rectal cancer, the next step is to determine the stage of the disease. This is known as staging. Your doctor may recommend CT and MRI scans, as well as other tests, to determine whether the cancer has spread beyond the rectum to other organs.
The vast majority of rectal cancers are adenocarcinomas. This is a cancer of the cells that line the rectum's inside surface. Rarer types of tumors include gastrointestinal stromal tumors (a type of soft tissue sarcoma that can be found anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract but is rare in the rectum) or other types of sarcoma that start in the blood vessels or connective tissue of the rectum, and lymphoma, which is an immune system cancer that more commonly starts in the lymph nodes but can start in the rectum.
The cancer's stage describes how widespread it is in the rectum and whether it has spread (metastasized) to other organs. This is critical information for doctors to have when developing a treatment plan for you. Rectal cancer is classified into five stages.
- Stage 0: This very early cancer is found only in the rectum wall's innermost lining.
- Stage I: The tumor has spread beyond the inner lining but has not spread to the lymph nodes (small organs that are part of the immune system).
- Stage II: The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes but has not spread through the thick outer muscle layer of the rectum.
- Stage III: The cancer has spread to one or more lymph nodes from the rectum.
- Stage IV: The cancer has spread to other organs such as the liver or lungs. The cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes.
Your doctors will discuss treatment options with you if you are diagnosed with rectal cancer. To make an informed decision, inquire about the pros and cons of each option, potential side effects, and the treatment's efficacy.
Rectal cancer, like many other cancers, is treatable if detected early. However, if it remains undetected in your body and progresses through the stages, it can become difficult, if not impossible, to cure. Getting an accurate diagnosis from your doctor can literally mean the difference between life and death. If your doctor misdiagnosed or failed to diagnose rectal cancer, you may be able to sue for medical malpractice.
When you go to the doctor because you're not feeling well or have health concerns, your doctor has a duty to be on high alert for the possibility that your symptoms are more than just a routine illness. A doctor is the patient's first line of defense against potentially fatal medical conditions. A doctor jeopardizes the lives of his or her patients by failing to provide the necessary standard of care in each patient encounter.
Our medical malpractice lawyers at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, take the outcome of your case as seriously as you do. We fight hard for your rights and to hold the doctor accountable for his or her negligent actions, which caused you harm. We represent injured clients and their families throughout Upstate New York, including Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, Elmira, Binghamton, Auburn, Ithaca, Oswego, Norwich, Herkimer, Delhi, Cooperstown, Cortland, Lowville, Oneida, Watertown, Utica, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Lyons, and surrounding areas. Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form to discuss your case.