What can I do if my colon cancer was misdiagnosed by a Virginia doctor?

When people worry, it affects them physically. A stressful day at work or harrowing personal problems may often leave people feeling sick to their stomachs.

But what if, while you're worrying about everyday life, you actually have something much bigger to worry about?

Was your Virginia cancer misdiagnosed? Learn what to do with our FREE book: Do I Have A Case? A Patient's Guide to Virginia Medical Negligence Law.

Many people shrug off stomach difficulties as facts of life, swallowing antacids and coping with the pain. But many of these people are actually suffering the symptoms of colon cancer-and may not find out the truth until it's too late.

Colon cancer in Virginia is often misdiagnosed as one of the following conditions:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS has become a common condition in the past few years. Unfortunately, it has also become a "go-to" diagnosis for overworked doctors who believe their patients are over-concerned about their pain.
  • Ulcers / Diverticulitis. Since cramping and stomach pain are common symptoms, doctors often attribute these symptoms to stomach lesions or intestinal swelling.
  • Diarrhea / Constipation. One of the reasons colon cancer is so hard to diagnose in an exam room is that the symptoms vary. A patient is just as likely to have trouble going to the bathroom as they are to frequent it, making the diagnosis more likely to be food poisoning or a lack of fiber in the diet.
  • Pregnancy Side Effects. Pregnant women often experience some or all of the above conditions, leading their doctors to believe that their symptoms will improve after the baby is born.

Of all the people diagnosed with colon cancer every year, over one-third will die as a result. So how can so many cases go undiagnosed, if the risk is so high and recovery rate so low?

  • Age. People under 30 are considered a "low-risk" group, so when younger patients present with stomach or bowel symptoms, doctors often do not consider cancer as a cause-meaning their cancer may go undiagnosed for years.
  • Lack of testing. Colon cancer screenings include fecal tests, physical exams-and the dreaded colonoscopy. Patients are reluctant to have this procedure because it is uncomfortable, not realizing that it could very well save their lives.
  • Delayed diagnosis. Many physicians will "write off" minor symptoms because they are easy to treat. It's not until patients demand further testing for chronic conditions that the diagnosis will be discovered.

As experienced Fairfax medical malpractice attorneys, we know that the best chance a cancer patient has for survival is early treatment. A doctor shrugging off serious symptoms can cause a patient to suffer needlessly while allowing the cancer to spread throughout the body-reducing the odds of recovery with every passing day.

Cancer misdiagnosis is a common form of medical malpractice-one that often has fatal results. If someone you love suffered as a result of misdiagnosed colon cancer, call Shevlin Smith today at (703) 591-0067 for a free consultation.

Michael J. Shevlin
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Specializing in medical malpractice and serious personal injury cases since 1994.