A study by the British Journal of cancer reported that one in five ‘red flag’ symptoms that indicate the presence of bowel cancer have been missed by GPs. The study also found that 16% of patients presenting with emergency bowel cancer symptoms had been to see their GP three times or more previously with similar warning signs but bowel cancer was not suspected. The study concentrated on data from patients diagnosed in England in 2005 and 2006, particularly focusing on the pattern of events in the five years leading up to the diagnosis of bowel cancer.
Data from 1,606 patients and 200 GP surgeries were analysed. Many of these patients (or their families if the patient has subsequently died) who received a bowel cancer misdiagnosis may be entitled to claim bowel cancer compensation.
Bowel cancer claims are often the best way to receive restitution for negligent medical care and to pay for future treatment.
To start a bowel cancer misdiagnosis compensation claim, call us today on 0333 123 9099. Alternatively, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form on the right to request a callback.
The potentials signs and symptoms of bowel cancer
Like a majority of cancers, patients have a much higher chance of making a recovery if they are diagnosed sooner rather than later, making the misdiagnosis of bowel cancer a real danger.
The symptoms of bowel cancer can include:
- Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
- A change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme, unexplained fatigue
- A pain or lump in your tummy
- Bloating and nausea
Most people who have these symptoms do not have bowel cancer, which makes bowel cancer misdiagnosis more likely.
The research shows that in England, 35% of colon cancers and 15% of rectal cancers were diagnosed after seeking emergency medical attention. Although many of these patients often did not display obvious symptoms for bowel cancer, making it harder for GPs to diagnose their cancer early, 17.5% of colon cancer patients and 23% of rectal cancer patients did have "red flag" symptoms.
This information is distressing news for bowel cancer patients and their loved ones. When it comes to recovery, much hinges on at which stage the cancer was picked up by doctors. According to Cancer Research, the one-year relative survival rate for bowel cancer is highest for patients diagnosed at stage I, and lowest for those diagnosed at stage IV. Data from 2012 shows that 98% of patients diagnosed at stage one survived their disease for at least one year, versus 46% of patients diagnosed at stage four. Bowel cancer claims are often raised if a doctor has allowed their patient to get to stage IV without having diagnosed the condition beforehand.
Bowel Cancer (C18-C20), Percentage Distribution of Cases Diagnosed By Anatomical Site, by Sex, UK, 2010-2012
Can those whose bowel cancer was missed claim for compensation?
GPs and other medical professionals owe a duty of care to their patients to exercise reasonable care and skill. To receive bowel cancer compensation, a claimant must show that whatever the doctor did or neglected to do, fell below the standard of a reasonably competent doctor in that particular field of medicine. The test of whether a doctor breached the duty of care owed to a patient is whether he or she has failed to meet the standard of a reasonable body of other practitioners also skilled in that field.
If it is established that a particular doctor’s diagnosis (or misdiagnosis) did fall below the standard expected of a similarly skilled practitioner and it can be clearly shown that the misdiagnosis caused the claimant damage, then bowel cancer compensation may be rewarded.
It is important to be aware of the time limits that apply to bringing bowel cancer claims. In general, the claimant has three years from the date he or she became aware that bowel cancer negligence occurred, in which to make a claim.
The importance of diagnosing bowel cancer early
If a doctor makes a bowel cancer misdiagnosis, it can rob a person of many years of life. It is vital to catch bowel cancer in the early stages, before it spreads to other parts of the body such as the liver. Although bowel cancer symptoms can be difficult to spot, health professionals have a responsibility to ensure more detailed tests are done if a patient is presenting with symptoms over a period of time.
This is why bowel cancer claims are important. The more the healthcare professionals who misdiagnose the condition are held accountable, the less it will take place in the future and the death rate for bowel cancer should decline.
What can be mistaken for bowel cancer?
Misdiagnosed bowel cancer often takes place because of other conditions that share its symptoms. Most often, these are gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an infection, haemorrhoids or inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Like bowel cancer, these conditions can cause diarrhoea, constipation, cramps and belly pain making them difficult to differentiate from one another.
How reliable are bowel cancer tests?
Bowel cancer screenings are carried out regularly in the UK, and involve a self-administered test known as a FIT kit. The FIT kit is posted to you by your healthcare provider and requires you to take a faecal sample that you send back to the lab for processing.
2 out of 100 people who take this test will require further testing and the other 98 wont. This doesn’t mean that the 98 don’t have bowel cancer, because no test is 100% accurate. However, these tests are 99.8% effective at ruling out bowel cancer according to a study conducted by Croydon University Hospital in January 2020.
How often is bowel cancer misdiagnosed?
More than 16,500 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year, making it the second biggest cancer killer. Misdiagnosed bowel cancer undoubtedly plays a factor in this number, especially when it comes to younger patients.
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance found that more than 70% of patients aged 49 and younger are diagnosed with bowel cancer at stage III or IV, whereas most patients over 50 are diagnosed at stage I or II.
The number of delayed diagnoses of bowel cancer increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 3,500 fewer patients than expected diagnosed with bowel cancer in England between April and October 2020.
Could you be entitled to bowel cancer compensation for a misdiagnosis or late diagnosis?
At IBB Claims, our personal injury team, led by Malcolm Underhill, has the expertise and knowledge to advise and represent you if you wish to make a claim for misdiagnosis of bowel cancer compensation or any other medical negligence claim. To talk about how we might be able to help, please phone us on 0333 123 9099, email us at email@example.com or fill in our contact form. Any discussions you have with us about bowel cancer claims will be in the strictest of confidence.