Colorectal Cancer: A Killer That Can't Be Overlooked

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the second deadliest in the United States. Each year, approximately 145,000 people are diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer. Combined, these two types of cancer cause 56,000 deaths per year.

If detected early, colon and rectal cancer are curable by surgery. Long-term survival correlates with the stage at diagnosis of the disease in colorectal cancer.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms?

Symptoms of colorectal cancer may include:

  • Rectal bleeding (overt or occult)
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Mucus per rectum
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss

Given the high incidence of colorectal cancer, doctors have an obligation to take symptoms seriously, especially in patients with risk factors such as:

  • Age (50 and older)
  • Diet rich in fat and cholesterol
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis)
  • Alcohol ingestion
  • Genetic predisposition (hereditary polyposis and nonpolyposis syndromes)

How Is It Detected?

Routine screenings are essential for catching colorectal cancer early. These screenings may include:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Barium enema
  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test
  • Digital rectal examination

If your doctor doesn't recommend the right screenings, you could end up with a delayed diagnosis that limits your treatment options.

What's The Prognosis?

When it comes to colorectal cancer, early detection is critical for saving lives. The overall five-year survival rate from colon cancer is approximately 60 percent. However, it depends on the stage. If caught early enough, certain types of colorectal cancer have a survival rate of 90 percent. Once the cancer progresses and becomes metastatic, however, that rate plummets to 5 percent.

Victim Of A Missed Or Delayed Diagnosis?

If you think diagnostic errors may have deprived you of the chance for meaningful treatment, contact the "Law Doctors" at the Massachusetts law firm of Barry D. Lang, M.D. & Associates. We have doctors on staff to thoroughly evaluate your situation. If negligence contributed to your poor prognosis (or that of a loved one), you can count on our attorneys to fight for you.

Discuss your options during a free consultation by calling 800-LAWYERS. Located in the Boston area, we can come to you if needed.