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Bowel Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims

Bowel cancer is a potentially aggressive and painful form of the disease if it is not managed adequately and treated promptly. A doctor who fails to recognise symptoms, diagnoses the disease as an alternative condition, provides a late diagnosis or fails to provide a diagnosis at all will be considered to have ‘misdiagnosed’ bowel cancer.

Late diagnosis of bowel cancer can lead to greater complications with treatment and a much poorer prognosis and recovery time. Depending upon the severity of a case, a late diagnosis may result in a previously treatable cancer being untreatable, having spread to other body parts. Solicitors are skilled in attaining the highest levels of compensation following a bowel cancer misdiagnosis, and would be pleased to support you in recovering the compensation rightfully owed to you if your bowel cancer was not diagnosed properly.

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is often also referred to as colon cancer, depending upon the location of the disease and initially develops in the large bowel. If misdiagnosed, tumours can grow and cancer can spread to other parts of the body.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer and colon cancer can be misdiagnosed my doctors because early symptoms are hard to detect and can sometimes present themselves as those similar to digestion problems. Bowel and colon cancer are occasionally misdiagnosed as less serious conditions and therefore remain inadequately treated, allowing the cancer to develop, which has a significant impact on the prognosis for the patient.

Some of the most common symptoms that people have suffered from due to bowel cancer include:

  • Changes in bowel movements over a period of more than three weeks, including constipation, diarrhoea and needing to empty the bowels on a regular basis.
  • Blood in stools
  • Blood from the rectum
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Pain when passing a stool
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Anaemia from bleeding inside the bowel which leads to fatigue, feeling generally unwell and breathlessness.

Later stages of bowel cancer can present symptoms such as those above at an elevated level, as well as feeling abnormally bloated and vomiting. At this stage, many patients return to their doctor to communicate that their condition is worsening. If the doctor still fails to perform the relevant tests or refer the patient for further examinations and bowel cancer is later diagnosed, the person is likely to be eligible to make a claim for compensation.

What causes bowel cancer?

The majority of bowel and colon cancers initially develop in the bowel’s inner lining, where cells which are referred to as ‘polyps’ begin to grow. Polyps are not always cancerous and can develop to be benign. Research has suggested that there are a number of factors which can lead to polyps becoming cancerous, they include:

  • Diet – Poor diet or diets high in red meat are linked to a higher rate of bowel cancer diagnosis. People with diets which are low in unsaturated fats and high in fibre are amongst those least likely to suffer from bowel cancer.
  • Smokers are 25% more likely to develop bowel or colon cancer than non-smokers. This is because cells mutate more rapidly in the bodies of smokers.
  • Obese people have a significantly higher chance of developing bowel cancer than those with a healthy BMI.
  • Family history can also determine the likelihood of a person developing bowel or colon cancer, as this type of the disease is hereditary.

Some digestive diseases have been linked to the development of bowel cancer. This includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Patients with these conditions should be monitored regularly to detect early signs of bowel cancer.

When a GP is aware of the above causes and fails to organise thorough investigation of symptoms linked to bowel cancer, which subsequently leads to a misdiagnosis, they are likely to be considered liable and a claim for compensation may be brought against the relevant NHS trust or private medical practice involved.

How can misdiagnosis be proven?

For your solicitor to prove that bowel cancer misdiagnosis has occurred, they will need to demonstrate the following two points:

  • That the standard of care given to you by your doctor fell below the expected standards as outlined by the General Medical Council. This can be your GP, hospital doctor, specialist or any other clinical staff.
  • That the negligent actions of the doctor who misdiagnosed your bowel cancer caused an adverse outcome to you.

In order to prove that diagnosis was late, incorrect or below expected standards, an oncologist is able to map the stage that the cancer would have been at had diagnosis been made promptly and when expected. Your solicitor will use the information given by an oncologist to determine the likely stage of the cancer, the statistics for a cure and prove that the delay imposed a threat to health and inflicted risk and suffering to you that could and should have been avoided.

How much compensation will I receive?

The compensation amount that is awarded to you will greatly depend upon the level of suffering and the implications of your bowel cancer misdiagnosis. The greater the adverse impact to you, the larger the compensation award will be.

As well as receiving an amount for the pain and suffering caused as a result of the medical negligence, you will also be able to recover any financial losses. This is referred to as special damages, and can cover loss of earnings, the cost of any treatment or medications required, transport costs to and from appointments and any other financial losses you have incurred.

Your solicitors will have worked with many cases of medical misdiagnosis and late diagnosis for various types of cancer and other conditions. They will work hard to secure the maximum amount of injury compensation possible for you.

The service starts with a free consultation. This is an opportunity for you to discuss your case with an experienced claims handler, who will be able to determine if you have a valid claim for compensation. They will also be able to offer you advice on the claims process, and answer any questions you may have.