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Delayed cancer diagnosis may have ruined woman’s chances

In the war against colon cancer — the third most commonly diagnosed cancer — early screening and testing might be the strongest weapons. If detected early, doctors might be able to remove polyps, or growths on the colon wall, before they become malignant.

However, in the push for early detection, younger Americans in Oregon and nationwide — those under the age of 50 — have been overlooked. Today’s posting illustrates a recent victim of a delayed diagnosis of colon cancer.

A woman — now 44 years old — went to doctors 7 years ago showing signs of colorectal cancer. However, doctors failed to test her for it, believing her to be too young. Rather, they attributed her diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, iron deficiency and extreme fatigue to the flu or anxiety. Eventually, the woman became so sick that she had to stop working. Only after she saw a specialist was a screening test ordered for her, at which point she was recently diagnosed with Stage II colorectal cancer. Her colonoscopy revealed that a mass had blocked most of her colon and had grown through her intestinal wall.

Historically, colon cancer might be associated with people older than 50. However, the American Cancer Society reports that colorectal cancer rates increased 2.1% in Americans ages 18 to 49 between 1998 and 2007. That increase might be even more significant given that colorectal cancer rates have otherwise been gradually declining: by about 3% per year in men and 2.3% per year in women.

The tragedy in this story is that the woman’s cancer might have been treatable with early detection. Without timely and proper medical intervention, however, cancer cells can easily spread to other parts of your body. If too much time has passed, the condition might be irreparable. If you believe your doctor has failed to order proper tests to diagnose your condition, an attorney can advise you of your options.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “More younger people getting colorectal cancer,” Andrea K. Walker, July 29, 2012

• Our firm handles situations similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Oregon Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer page.