Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States (US) and nearly all of the colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas. Approximately 130,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year and it causes more than 50,000 deaths annually. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US.
The good news is that colon cancers are usually slow growing and stay localized for an extended period of time. If an early diagnosis of colon cancer is made, it can be caught before it metastasizes to other organs or lymph nodes. Colon cancer that is diagnosed before lymph node involvement can have approximately a 90% cure rate. Any delay in diagnosing colon cancer can lead to a decrease in life expectancy or 5-year survival rate.
Signs or symptoms of colon or rectal cancer that you and your doctor or gastroenterologist (GI) physician should be looking for can be:
- Ribbon or narrow stools
- Feeling like your bowel isn't empty after moving bowels
- Dark, black or bloody bowel movements (BM's)
- Abdominal bloating or distention
- Abdominal cramps
- Gas pains
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Tired or fatigue
If you are exhibiting one or more of the above symptoms, your doctor may conduct one or more of the following diagnostic tests to check for colon cancer:
- Digital rectal exam (DRE) to check for any mass
- Fecal occult blood test to check for blood in the stool
- Scopes such as proctoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to check for polyps, tumors, suspicious tissues or other lesions
- CT scan to see if there is an area of metastasis or cancer in other places
- Barium x-ray to show the location of the tumor or mass
- Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) blood test which is a tumor marker test used to monitor patients with colon cancer
Depending on what stage your cancer is when it is diagnosed will determine what treatment you may need. Usually surgery is the most effective treatment especially if the colon cancer was caught in the early stages. During the time of surgery, lymph nodes may also be removed to see if the cancer had spread. Sometimes the part of the intestine or colon that has the mass is removed and the intestines are sewn back together or anastomosed. Other times, a large portion of the bowel may be removed and a permanent colostomy or stoma may be needed. Metastatic colon cancer or inoperable tumors may require chemotherapy agents such as fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan or oxaliplatin. Radiation therapy may also be added in addition to chemotherapy.
Any failure to diagnose or treat colon cancer can decrease your survival rate. If you believe that there was a delay in diagnosing your colon cancer you may be eligible for compensation. Any failure to diagnose cancer case can be very complicated and require the work of highly experienced Pennsylvania medical negligence lawyers who can handle the intricacies that are involved in these types of cases. The Philadelphia Beasley Law Firm is a nationally recognized medical malpractice and wrongful death firm that has been awarded over $2 billion for their clients. Our specialized teams, made up of physicians and nurses, have spent over 60 years working in the healthcare field. We are skilled in areas where other firms may not be, including wrongful death, negligence, and personal injury. Our collective knowledge assisted in obtaining two of the largest medical negligence verdicts in Pennsylvania history, $100 million and $55 million, as well as hundreds of other multimillion dollar judgments and settlements. Please feel free to contact one of our experienced lawyers, doctors or nurses at (215) 866-2424 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.