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Younger patients with colorectal cancer are often misdiagnosed

Young people in Illinois and across the U.S. run a higher risk of being diagnosed with later-stage colorectal cancer (also called colon cancer). The reason for this, according to the American Association for Cancer Research, is that people under the age of 50 with this disease tend to be misdiagnosed during their initial appointments.

Specifically, a study of 1,195 colon cancer patients made by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance found that 71 percent of patients below the age of 50 had stage 3 or 4 colon cancer. On the other hand, those over 50 were more prone to be diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 colon cancer. Close to 65 percent of the respondents said they waited three months to a year to be screened for the cancer. Many had to see between two and four physicians before they could be correctly diagnosed.

The symptoms of colorectal cancer, which include constipation, inflammatory bowel syndrome, fatigue and weight loss, are similar to those of other conditions. This means patients could be treated for the wrong conditions before a correct diagnosis is made.

However, an at-home screening test could identify one possible marker for colorectal cancer: namely, blood in stool as a sign of colon polyps. It is called the fecal immunochemical test. Of all the colorectal cancer patients who tested it out, 75 to 80 percent were diagnosed correctly.

When a failure to diagnose cancer leads to serious repercussions, the victim may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. For a claim to work, however, there must be clear proof that the doctor was negligent. There must also have been a preexisting doctor-patient relationship. Those who wish to file may want to consult with a lawyer.