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Failure to diagnose colon cancer can be deadly

As research and technological advances continue to revolutionize medicine, screening and treating cancer has become more efficient and effective. Many individuals who once would have had a very minimal chance of survival are now beating back cancer and living longer, healthier lives. With these advances come a greater responsibility on medical professionals. These doctors and nurses are expected to continue to live up to the applicable standard of care, and failing to do so could result in a patient suffering avoidable injury.

One way a medical professional may breach his or her duty of care is failing to diagnose colon cancer. Colon cancer, which is typically successfully treated in its earliest stages, can be diagnosed a number of ways. One way is to via a colonoscopy. Here, a tube-like scope with a video camera attached is inserted into an individual so that a doctor can see if there are any problematic signs of cancer. If an issue is found, a doctor may then take a biopsy to test tissue.

A second way to detect colon cancer is to conduct blood tests. Although no single blood test can detect colon cancer, the results of these tests can help doctors identify markers that indicate an increased risk of colon cancer. For example, the presence of carcinoembryonic antigens, or CEAs, are produced by colon cancers. Therefore, by tracking the levels of CEA, a doctor can better understand whether cancer is present and if it is growing or shrinking.

Although colon cancer is very treatable, the success of this treatment is dependent upon a medical professional's ability to make an accurate and timely diagnosis. A failure to diagnose, or a wrong diagnosis, can lead to a decreased chance of survival and additional pain and suffering. Those who believe they have suffered harm due to medical professional negligence may want to consider their legal options, as a medical malpractice claim may allow them to recover compensation for their damages.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Colon Cancer," accessed on Nov. 28, 2016

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