Why is Colon Cancer Often Misdiagnosed in Younger Patients?May 15, 2019
Colon cancer generally affects patients who are over the age of 50, unless there is a family history of the disease, or the patient is African American or a native of Alaska. For years, the American Cancer Society’s colorectal cancer screening guidelines recommended that patients begin screening for the disease at the age of 50. However, they recently updated their guidelines, and now urge patients to begin screening at the age of 45. Despite the earlier screening, a growing number of younger patients who have symptoms of colon cancer are misdiagnosed due to their age. Unfortunately, when they are finally diagnosed with colon cancer, it has often progressed to advanced stages.
Researchers conducted a survey of 1,195 colorectal cancer patients and survivors aged 20 to 49. Fifty-seven percent of the patient respondents were diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 49, whereas only one-third were diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 39. Only 10 percent of patients under the age of 30 were diagnosed. The researchers also found that older patients were diagnosed in the early stages. Over 70 percent of the younger patients said that by the time their disease was diagnosed, it had progressed to stages three or four. This was likely because they were not screened for the disease due to their age.
Symptoms Mimic Other Conditions
Some of the common symptoms of colon cancer include constipation, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, blood in the stool, gas pains, fatigue, and nausea or vomiting. Patients may assume that they have irritable bowel syndrome, a stomach bug, or some other condition that is causing intestinal distress. As a result, according to the survey, 63 percent of respondents waited up to 12 months to see a doctor about their symptoms. In addition, a significant percentage of respondents said that they saw multiple physicians before receiving an accurate diagnosis. Patients who are experiencing symptoms of colon cancer should be tested for it.
The screening options currently available include undergoing a highly sensitive fecal test, as well as undergoing a colonoscopy every 10 years, starting at the age of 45. If a patient has a first-degree relative who had colon cancer, regardless of what age, they should start getting screened at the age of 40, or 10 years before the age at which the family member was diagnosed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States that affect both men and women. The colon and rectal cancer mortality rates in patients between the age of 20 and 54 increased by one percent each year from 2004 to 2014.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Medical Misdiagnosis
If you or a loved one suffered serious health consequences after a healthcare provider failed to diagnose your colon cancer, allowing the disease to progress, you are urged to contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will conduct a thorough investigation into your case and determine who is responsible for the misdiagnosis. We will secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve and ensure that your legal rights are protected. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.