By Dr. Gerald B. Parker, III, M.D., J.D.
There are few experiences more devastating than learning that your husband has been diagnosed with colorectal or rectal cancer. If your spouse is seriously ill or has recently passed away, you may be wondering whether his colorectal cancer could have been detected at an earlier stage — when more might have been done to help him. The following information may help you decide your next steps in this time of stress and sadness.
How do doctors detect rectal cancer?
Several different tests are used to screen for colorectal cancer in patients. Tests that look at the colon's structure in order to detect abnormal areas can find cancer and precancerous colorectal polyps. A doctor may use a gloved finger to feel for any abnormal bumps or spots in the rectum. As patients grow older, a scope may be used in colonoscopy tests. The doctor inserts the scope into the rectum to be able to observe images of the colon. If these tests find polyps or other abnormal structures in the colon or rectum, they can be removed before they develop into cancer.
Other, less invasive tests involve checking the feces for blood and other signs of cancer. If signs of cancer are found, the doctor will order more tests to be done. While fecal tests can screen for cancer, they are less likely to find polyps or precancerous abnormalities. These tests are less effective than a colonoscopy for detecting cancer in early stages, but are still a useful tool for doctors as a regular screening tool, or if a patient has shown symptoms that might indicate colorectal cancer.
Could your husband's rectal cancer have been detected earlier?
If your spouse kept up with the recommended colonoscopy tests but was diagnosed with an advanced stage of colorectal cancer, it is possible that the tests failed to catch the cancer. However, it's also possible that your husband's doctor or pathologist didn't look at the test results closely enough and failed to notice tell-tale signs. It is also possible that doctors saw the signs but incorrectly attributed them to other diseases. If this is the case, it is possible that your husband could have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer at an earlier stage.
Where do you go from here?
If you suspect that your doctor made a mistake that resulted in the late diagnosis of your spouse's colorectal cancer, you have options. You can contact our law firm, and we will take a look at the results of past physical examinations and medical tests. If we determine that your husband's doctor or pathologist made a mistake, we can help you determine the appropriate legal action. You may be entitled to reparations. Our law firm will help you every step of the way. Contact us for more information and advice, and we will help you get through this.