Colorectal cancer (colon cancer) is not a condition limited to the elderly. In fact, there are an increasing number of patients under the age of 50 who are being found with stage 3 or 4 colon cancer. However, Kentucky should note that this may be the result of misdiagnoses at the initial appointment with a doctor.

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance completed a study involving 1,195 respondents with colorectal cancer. It found that 63 percent had to wait three to 12 months before they could be screened for cancer. On average, many of the patients had to see two to four physicians before getting a correct diagnosis.

Of the patients below the age of 50, 71 percent were diagnosed with stage 3 or 4 colon cancer, whereas those over 50 were more likely to be diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 colon cancer. The reason is that younger patients are being more frequently misdiagnosed and treated for conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or hemorrhoids, which share symptoms with colorectal cancer. Those symptoms include constipation, weight loss and fatigue.

There is an at-home screening test that patients can use, though, for accurate results. Called the fecal immunochemical test, it can check one’s stool for any blood, which could be a sign of the formation of colon polyps. It may be a good alternative to colonoscopies.

Patients who do what they can but who nonetheless become the victims of medical malpractice may have good grounds for a claim. It must be shown, however, that their doctor did not meet an objective standard of care and that the patient followed the doctor’s instructions. There are other requirements, so victims might want to see a lawyer for more information. The lawyer may be able to speak on the victim’s behalf in negotiations or the courtroom.