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Colorectal Cancer Screenings Reduce Delayed Diagnosis

diagnostic errors

Colorectal cancer screenings are a vital tool in reducing delayed diagnosis that can lead to deadly results. When cancer screenings are performed correctly and in a timely manner, they may lead to an early diagnosis and a much greater chance for successful treatment and health outcome for the patient. When a physician fails to order an appropriate colorectal cancer screening for their patient they may be putting the patient at risk for delayed diagnosis and decreased health up to and including premature death.

Findings from a study completed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), “Diagnostic Error in Medicine: Analysis of 583 Physician-Reported Errors,” are published in the November 9, 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers found that failure to order tests, report results to patients or follow up with abnormal test findings are the most common types of diagnostic errors. Colorectal cancer was among the diseases identified as the most common missed or delayed diagnoses.

If you or a loved one has suffered a delayed cancer diagnosis and declining health because your physician failed to order a cancer screening test, contact a medical malpractice lawyer. The attorney may be able to file a medical  malpractice lawsuit on your behalf.

Colorectal cancer screening tests play important role in reducing delayed diagnosis

Colorectal cancer screening tests are used to detect cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease but who fit into the recommended testing guidelines or for people that are experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer and other digestive diseases. Some tests may be used as follow-up diagnostic tools.

Types of colorectal cancer screening tests:

  • Special x-rays can be used to detect both colorectal polyps and cancer.
  • Scopes inserted into the rectum can be used to detect cancer plus locate and remove polyps. Often times polyps removed during these tests are not yet cancerous which can mean the prevention of colorectal cancer.
  • Stool and blood tests can be used to detect signs of cancer. These tests are less invasive but also not very useful in detecting polyps.

Colorectal cancer screening guidelines

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for colorectal cancer using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy between the ages of 50 years through 75 years. Exceptions to this guideline include those with a family history of colorectal cancers; those in this situation should begin testing earlier on a timeline discussed with their family physician or specialist.

How often should individual tests be performed?

  • The high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT) should be performed every year for three years.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – the use of a flexible, lighted scope to assess the interior walls of the rectum and part of the colon – should be done every five years or every three years when combined with FOBT.
  • Colonoscopy – the use of a flexible, lighted scope to assess the interior walls of the rectum and the entire colon – should be done every 10 years. Colonoscopies are useful as screening tools but also as follow-up diagnostic tool to confirm positive results from other tests.

The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable medical errors including birth injuries, hospital-acquired infections and wrongful death in Seattle and across Washington State. There are no fees or expenses to file a personal injury case as we only receive payment if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims come with a Statute of Limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time frame of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate, experienced attorneys.