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Study: Colorectal cancer misdiagnosis rates in young patients

Medical professionals generally associate colorectal cancer as a disease most likely in older members of the population. This serious disease often presents with symptoms like diarrhea or constipation, bloody stools, gas, cramps, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. Patients presenting with these symptoms may require additional testing to determine if cancer is present. This can include a colonoscopy.

In the past, the American Cancer Society has recommended screening for this disease beginning at age 50. However, recent research has shown an increase in the number of younger people with this form of cancer. As a result, the group lowered the recommendation to 45.

Why is this change important? The vast majority of colorectal cancer patients under the age of 50 are diagnosed with a severe, advanced form of cancer — 71 percent diagnosed with stage 3 or 4. Over two-third of the participants in the study stated they saw at least two physicians before they were able to get the correct diagnosis and begin treatment.

The publication states the lowering of the recommended screening age may increase the likelihood medical professionals will consider the possibility of colorectal cancer in younger patients.

Who participated in this study? Researchers reviewed 1,195 individuals who were either recently diagnosed, undergoing treatment or survivors of colorectal cancer ranging in ages from 20 to 49. Over half of the participants in the study were diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 49, a third between 30 and 39 and the remaining ten percent before reaching the age of 30.

What is the takeaway lesson? Although patients are their own biggest advocate, it is important that physicians and other medical professionals take their patient’s concerns seriously. Those who seek medical care and do not receive the testing they need to get the correct diagnosis may have a medical malpractice claim. Contact an attorney to discuss potential legal remedies.

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