Medical Mistake Claims - Simpson Millar LLP

How Misdiagnosed Bowel Cancer Can Change Your Life

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 19/05/2014

By now, we are all aware of Stephen Sutton, an inspirational young man who, with the help of some newly acquired celebrity friends, raised £3.2 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust. However, there is a darker side to his story that can affect many young people in the same position.

Misdiagnosis of Constipation

Initially, Stephen was misdiagnosed with constipation. Prior to his actual diagnosis of cancer, he was suffering from stomach cramps, weight loss, sickness and a loss of appetite. When he went to the doctors, he was given laxatives. This was despite there being a high chance of him developing bowel cancer, due to a condition called Lynch Syndrome on his father's side. The condition increases your risk of bowel cancer, among other tumours.

Despite the efforts to tell the doctor about the family history, and even showing a booklet about Lynch Syndrome and its connection to bowel cancer, he was again dismissed. Finally, he was given an emergency CT scan that revealed a blockage in his bowel. This blockage was later identified as a cancerous growth. He was just 15 at the time when he received his diagnosis. Typically, bowel cancer is more common in people over 65.

If the Signs Are There, Act on Them

According to the NHS over 65's have a 72% of developing the illness. In addition to this, if you have a family history of bowel cancer or a condition that leads to it, you are more at risk. 90% of men and 70% of women with the Lynch Syndrome gene will develop bowel cancer by the time they are in their 70's.

Bowel screening is essential to catching the disease early to stop the spread to other organs and better your prognosis. However, these screenings are only regularly available to those aged between 60 and 69. If, like Stephen, you are nowhere near that age and are at risk, it will be up to the discretion of your doctor to screen you for the condition.

Make That Claim

Stephen Sutton believed that if he were diagnosed earlier, his situation would have been very different.

Being misdiagnosed can take many forms but the message remains clear, missing, delaying or misdiagnosing the condition can lead to grave consequences and should not go unchecked by the law. Protocols are in place to make complaints to the NHS about your misdiagnosis but if you feel this process is not doing you justice, you should seek legal advice and consider a medical negligence claim.

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