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Bowel Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims and Colon Cancer Compensation

Bowel cancer can be a life-changing diagnosis but devastating if you’ve faced medical negligence as well.

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Claiming for bowel cancer negligence

Discovering you have bowel cancer, (also referred to as colon cancer or colorectal cancer), can be devastating at any time. But if misdiagnosis or negligent delay has occurred it can be even more difficult to deal with. Thankfully most patients receive excellent care when they need visit their doctor with symptoms or require treatment, but those that don’t can be left feeling unsure who to trust and where to turn to next.

Bowel cancer can often mimic the symptoms of other conditions, leading to misdiagnosed bowel cancer. Delays in diagnosis can have a significant impact on the treatment options available to patients, particularly if the cancer has further developed or spread as a result. But the impact of rectal cancer misdiagnosis can also be emotional and psychological, leaving patients feeling vulnerable and unable to trust those responsible for their care. If you’ve been affected and are looking for answers a failure to diagnose claim may be the solution for you.

Being a victim of bowel cancer misdiagnosis can lead to patients feeling vulnerable, unable to speak out or even embarrassed, but this shouldn’t be the case. You should be able to rely upon those responsible to listen to your medical concerns and take the necessary steps to help you. If you experienced delays, complications, or are mistreated when you had bowel cancer, you can take action. You have the right to receive an explanation as to why things have gone wrong and if you have suffered an injury as a result, you have a right to receive compensation.

If you’ve been affected by medical negligence while fighting bowel cancer, Your Legal Friend could help you secure the compensation and justice that you need deserve to reflect the suffering you've endured. While each individual case is different, our professional, expert team can guide you throughout the process. We know that compensation won’t right the wrongs you have experienced but it can help you take a step forward.

Discovering those responsible for your care have let you down can leave patients unsure of who to turn to for answers. Investigating a claim for misdiagnosis of bowel cancer can help patients who have been affected by getting answers they need as to what went wrong, and helping the hospital to make sure it does not happen to someone else. Financial compensation for the additional pain and suffering can also be sought and whilst we know that money cannot undo the damage that has been done but it can give those affected by misdiagnosed colon cancer more flexibility. For instance, it may allow you to take extra time off work, pay for private medical care, or simply relieve financial pressures.

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Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of cancer negligence cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a bowel cancer negligence case.

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That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our cancer negligence team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high-value cancer negligence cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation. Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7-year-old and £4 million for an 11-year-old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers(APIL) since 2006. Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

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The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan

Director of Medical Negligence

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10 simple steps to claim

Step
1
Obtaining your medical records
Step
2
Providing your statement of what happened
Step
3
Minimising your loss
Step
4
Establishing that a breach of duty occurred
Step
5
Estabilishing the effect of the breach of duty
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86
Preparing your case for CourtCalculating the value of your claim
Step
7
Proving your loss
Step
68
Calculating the value of your claimPreparing your case for Court
Step
9
Attending the trial in Court
Step
10
Awarding your compensation claim

Your questions... answered

How long do I have to make a claim?

If you would like to make a misdiagnosis of cancer claim, you must do so within 3 years from the ‘date of knowledge’. This term refers to the point that you first realised a mistake had been made in the treatment that you received; this is usually the date of diagnosis in cancer claims. For some patients, this can be a difficult point to assess, especially if it took a long time for an accurate diagnosis to occur or if it’s a complex case. If you’re unsure whether you can still make a colon cancer misdiagnosis claim for a past incident, our expert team is on hand to help you understand.

Despite the 3-year time limit, we recommend that patients start the compensation process as soon as they are able to. This can make the proceedings quicker as it’s typically easier to obtain supporting documentation as evidence the closer to the date of knowledge it occurs.

How much compensation will I get?

The amount of compensation a patient that has been affected by colon cancer misdiagnosis depends on a number of factors. Each case depends upon what the patient has suffered personally as a result of the delay and how they have been affected in terms of financial costs they have incurred or how their earnings have been affected. We will consider the full impact a late colon cancer on you and advise you as an individual.

Without fully understanding your case and personal experience we can’t tell you how much compensation you would receive if your colon cancer misdiagnosis claim was successful. But our expert team of professional solicitors are on hand to help you. With our knowledge and understanding, we will value your claim, taking the impact the misdiagnosis of colon cancer on your life into full consideration. If you would like to learn more about how much your case could be worth you can contact us.

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Can I make a claim on a no win, no fee basis?

Whatever the nature of your rectal cancer negligence claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard rectal cancer negligence claims.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point, you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

Can I claim for bowel cancer misdiagnosis?

Yes, it is possible to make a compensation claim for bowel cancer if you’re misdiagnosed, suffered a delay in diagnosis, were treated incorrectly or poorly. In order to make a successful claim you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that you received a level of care that is sub-standard to what you should be able to expect, this could include tests not being ordered when you presented the signs of colon cancer or a delay in receiving the treatment you need.

Here is some more detail of what you could make a bowel cancer claim for:

Misdiagnosis

There are several different conditions, such as IBS or haemorrhoids, which have similar symptoms to bowel cancer. This means that unless the doctor is thorough with their questioning and conducts the necessary tests it’s possible for bowel cancer to be misdiagnosed as one of these. Misdiagnosed bowel cancer means you won’t receive the medical treatment and care that you need and can affect the odds of surviving the disease significantly, especially if the cancer further develops before the correct diagnosis is given. If you went to your GP with bowel cancer symptoms and do not feel they took the steps they should have to diagnose you, you could have a compensation claim.

Delay in treatment

A delayed diagnosis of bowel cancer can mean a delay in beginning treatment for your condition. In some cases, you may experience a delay in treatment even if you were diagnosed quickly. Efficient and effective treatment can have a huge impact on the success of the medical care, and if you’ve experienced a delay in your bowel cancer treatment we may be able to help you make a compensation claim. The story of Mr Lapworth’s experience of claiming on behalf of his wife reveals just how much impact delays in treatment can have.

Incorrect treatment

Your treatment for bowel cancer should depend on your individual circumstances and be decided by a team of medical professionals. However, if the wrong choice is made it can mean the chances of success are lower. Colon cancer treatment should give you the best chance possible to beat the disease and if this hasn’t been the case you may be able to make compensation against those responsible for the decision.

Poor treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with bowel cancer you should be able to expect the team responsible for your care to treat you properly. Poor treatment can lead to other issues that can impact your health as well as your mental wellbeing. For instance, if you underwent surgery but were not adequately looked after following it you could, for example, pick up an infection that hinders your recovery.

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How much bowel cancer misdiagnosis compensation will I get?

The amount of compensation you will receive if you experienced bowel cancer medical negligence will depend on your case and individual circumstances; however, we can give examples of other cases to give you an idea.

A 63-year-old woman experienced a delay in diagnosis of bowel cancer, despite a history of ulcerative colitis and the acknowledge links between the conditions from her doctor. Unfortunately, the delay meant the cancer had spread to other areas of her body and was too advanced for treatment. Her husband was awarded £150,000 in compensation.

If you take your claim forward, we will calculate the value of your claim based on several different factors as well as general damages for the pain and suffering the negligence has resulted in. We will also consider areas such as the impact the negligence has had on your quality of life, the effect on your earnings and the potential need to pay for care in the future.

Once your claim has been valued, you will then need to prove your losses to the court to be successful. Financial losses are quantifiable in some cases, such as through financial documents and payslips. In other cases, you can show your medical treatment record to support your claims, such as those indicating the level of pain you were experiencing at the time.

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What is the bowel cancer negligence claims process?

Making a bowel cancer claim with us usually follows 10 simple steps, which begins with obtaining medical records, statements, and establishing what breach of duty occurred and what effect it had. As well as this, we establish your loss, including lost earnings (past and future) and the cost of lifestyle adaptions such as additional treatment and home accessibility. For a small number of cases, this process may include going to court but this is rare and we will ensure your case fully prepared for this scenario.

How long do I have to make a bowel cancer claim?

If you have been affected by medical negligence it may be possible to make a compensation claim against those responsible. However, you must make a claim within 3 years from the ‘date of knowledge’. In rectal cancer cases, this is usually the date of diagnosis.

‘Date of knowledge’ can be a confusing term but it simply refers to the point where you first realised that there had been a mistake and you were let down by the people responsible for your care. For some cases, it’s simple to pinpoint this date but in others, it can be more complex. Before receiving an accurate diagnosis it’s possible for the misdiagnosis of rectal cancer to occur several times, linking the symptoms to multiple other conditions. If you’re unsure of whether you have a claim, we can help you. Our expert team are available to listen to your experience and better help you understand if your case falls within the 3-year time limit.

You do have up to 3 years to make a claim in Court but we advise that those affected by misdiagnosed rectal cancer or any other form of medical negligence seek professional advice as soon as possible.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

If you’re still undergoing treatment or are recovering, we know that taking on a claims process may be the last thing you want to do. But starting the process sooner can both help your case and you. By starting sooner, the whole process will also be concluded quicker too, giving you access to the compensation you have secured if successful, this can be a weight off your mind if you have financial pressures.

Your case will be supported by a witness statement that you give, detailing your experience. Writing this statement as close to the ‘date of knowledge’ as possible means that you’ll be better able to recall all the details. We will also gather other evidence, such as medical records and scans, and these are often easier to obtain if you seek legal advice soon after you realise you have been affected by negligence.

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Can bowel cancer be misdiagnosed?

In some instances, colon cancer misdiagnosis can occur, as the symptoms can be confused with other conditions or the correct tests are not ordered. It’s estimated that across all types of cancer around 10% of cases are initially misdiagnosed. This means a delay in treatment and can potentially have a significant impact on survival rates and the type of treatment that is needed.

Colon cancer misdiagnosed as diverticulitis

Diverticulitis affects the large intestine, or colon, and has symptoms that are also associated with bowel cancer, such as abdominal pain and feeling bloated.  This means that unless your GP conducts the necessary tests to rule out bowel cancer, it can be mislabelled as diverticulitis. 

Colon cancer misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a common digestive problem that causes bouts of symptoms such as bloating and diarrhoea or constipation. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe but in some cases, bowel cancer can wrongly by diagnosed as IBS. If the symptoms are mild, it can mean that a doctor doesn’t link the signs with cancer at first but believes it is IBS.

Colon cancer misdiagnosed as ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease, the symptoms tend to flare up and are similar to those of bowel cancer, including abdominal pain and recurring diarrhoea. Ulcerative colitis is often misdiagnosed as colon cancer and vice-versa, as a result of the similar symptoms.

Colon cancer misdiagnosed as haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids, or piles, are swellings containing enlarged blood vessels that are found inside or around the rectum. As bowel cancer can also cause swelling this can mean bowel cancer is misdiagnosed as haemorrhoids. However, piles aren’t typically associated with other symptoms of colon cancer.

In order to prevent misdiagnosis, there should be steps that GPs and other medical professionals take. Diagnosis of colon cancer will include a digital rectal examination conducted by the GP. If the symptoms suggest that you do have colon cancer a colonoscopy or computerised tomography colonography can be used to conduct a more extensive examination of the colon. Once bowel cancer is confirmed it’s likely that further testing will be carried out to see if the cancer has spread.

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How is bowel cancer caused?

Bowel cancer has many causes, such as age, diet and whether or not you smoke or drink. However, the only causes of bowel cancer that have a bearing on whether or not you can claim are:

Family history – if you have two or more first-degree relatives (parent, sibling or child) that have had bowel cancer, or one relative with a genetic condition linked to bowel cancer, you may have a higher risk of developing the condition yourself. Genetic conditions including Lynch Syndrome (also known as HNPCC), FAP (Familial Adenomatous Polyposis) and MAP (MUTYH Associated Polyposis) also increase your risk.

Pre-existing conditions – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are known to increase the risk of bowel cancer.

If you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, or have explained your family history of bowel cancer, and your healthcare professional did not carry out appropriate tests, you may have had your treatment delayed and as such could make a bowel cancer claim.

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How long does it take for bowel cancer to develop?

Cancer initially starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. These abnormal cells start to grow into polyps which than take around 10 to 15 years before they turn into colon cancer. It is possible for polyps to be picked up and removed before they become cancer through regular pre-screening tests. Those that are at an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, such as having a family history of the disease, may be invited to such screenings.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

There are signs of colorectal cancer that should signal that you should visit your doctor to undergo tests for bowel cancer.  The symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stools which often looks like coffee grounds
  • A change in normal bowel habits
  • A lump that your doctor can feel in your rectum or stomach, more commonly on the right side
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating that is brought on by eating

More than 90% of those suffering with bowel cancer experience with a persistent change in bowel habit, blood in their stool or abdominal pain and those with these symptoms should visit their GP if they persist for more than 4 weeks. Unfortunately, some of the signs of bowel cancer can be misinterpreted for other conditions, such as IBS or haemorrhoids, leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment.

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How is bowel cancer treated?

The treatment for colon cancer varies depending on a number of factors, including how advanced it is and which part of the bowl is affected. If it’s caught during the early stages, there is a very good chance that treatment will be successful and prevent bowel cancer coming back in the future. However, a cure isn’t always possible.

If you’ve been diagnosed with bowel cancer you’ll be cared for by a multidisciplinary team that will decide on your personal treatment, considering a variety of factors. Your bowel cancer treatment may combine chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and biological treatments, but surgery is the main treatment for most colorectal cancer.

If you have received treatment for bowel cancer that was inappropriate for your condition, or have been misdiagnosed and received unnecessary treatment, you may be able to make a medical negligence claim.

What are the survival rates of bowel cancer?

As with other forms of cancer, the survival rate for colon cancer is improving every year. According to Cancer Research, men have a 77% chance of beating the disease, while women have a 74% chance. The colon cancer survival rate can vary depending on how quickly the cancer is identified and treatment begins. Some 98% of patients that are diagnosed during the initial stages survive the disease for at least one year but this falls to 40% when diagnosed at stage 4.

Can I claim for rectal cancer misdiagnosis?

If you’ve been affected by rectal cancer misdiagnosis or another form of medical negligence, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. To bring a successful case forward you will need to demonstrate that those responsible for your care failed to provide you with the appropriate standard of care and that as a result, you have had a worse outcome from your treatment.

Misdiagnosed rectal cancer can occur for many reasons, including:

  • A GP failing to notice the symptoms of rectal cancer
  • Your doctor not conducting the necessary examinations during your appointment
  • A failure to refer for further testing despite signs of rectal cancer
  • Test results being read inaccurately
  • A bowel specialist failing to recognise the signs of rectal cancer
  • Abnormalities failing to be followed up
  • An unnecessary delay in referral or treatment

How is rectal cancer diagnosed?

When you first visit your GP with concerns about your health and the signs of rectal cancer they will usually carry out a digital rectal examination and examine your abdomen. They may also conduct a blood test to see if you have an iron deficiency, although a lack of iron doesn’t always indicate rectal cancer.

If your symptoms suggest you may have rectal cancer, your GP should refer you to a hospital for further testing by a bowel specialist. The main test used to diagnose rectal cancer is a colonoscopy. This involves a medical professional using a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end to examine the inside of the bowel. Other tests that may be conducted include a sigmoidoscopy, which looks inside the rectum, and a CT scan.

Rectal cancer is more likely to be treatable if it’s detected during the early stages before symptoms appear. The NHS operates a bowel cancer screening programme to detect cancer during the initial stage. All men and women aged between 60 and 74 are sent a home test kit to highlight potentially cancerous cells that return an abnormal result, indicating that further testing should be conducted.

After diagnosis, it’s likely that further testing will also be needed to assess the size and position of the cancer and find out if it has spread to other areas of the body. Staging and grading cancer is an important step as it can affect the treatment options that the team responsible for your care recommend. These tests could include:

  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • PET scan
  • Blood tests for a protein called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)
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What are the symptoms of rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer symptoms during the early stages of the disease can often be subtle, gradually worsening as the cancer develops. However, in 90% of bowel cancer cases patients do experience symptoms, signalling that they should visit their GP for further testing. Symptoms of rectal cancer include:

  • Blood in your stools
  • A change in your bowel habits that happens for no obvious reason and is persistent
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain in the abdomen or back passage
  • Feeling as though you haven’t emptied your bowel properly after a bowel movement
  • Unexplained tiredness

In some cases, the cancer can cause an obstruction in the bowel. An obstruction in the bowel can cause other symptoms, such as constipation, vomiting, and gripping pain in the abdomen.

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Can rectal cancer be misdiagnosed?

It is possible for rectal cancer misdiagnosis to occur. The symptoms of rectal cancer can be similar to many other conditions, leading to doctors dismissing the signs or linking them to other causes. An accurate and quick diagnosis often relies on a GP spotting the initial signs and ordering follow up tests to highlight any abnormalities. Where this hasn’t occurred, it is possible for a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis to happen.

Conditions it’s possible for rectal cancer to be misdiagnosed as include:

  • Diverticulitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Haemorrhoids

How is rectal cancer treated?

All patients that are diagnosed with bowel cancer are treated by a multidisciplinary team, which is made up of specialists in different areas. Each individual’s treatment plan is created with their circumstances in mind, such as their general health or whether the cancer has developed. The team responsible for your care will talk you through the different options and make recommendations but the final decision on which treatment you will undergo will remain with you.

Treatment for rectal cancer typically involves one or a combination of the following:

Surgery

An operation to remove a cancerous tumour is the most common form of treatment for rectal cancer. An operation called a total mesorectal excision (TME) is the most common type of surgery carried out and involves removing part or all the rectum. The extent of the TME will depend on the size of the cancer. Following surgery, some people have to wear a stoma temporarily and in rare cases may need to wear one permanently.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs are used to kill cancerous cells and can be given through an injection, tablets, or capsules. This treatment option is often given in conjunction with radiotherapy to provide a complete solution or after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to treat cancer by destroying the cells. It can also be used to relieve the symptoms of rectal cancer when a cure isn’t possible.

Biological therapies

Biological therapies, also known as targeted therapies, are anti-cancer medicines that affect processes within cancerous cells, preventing them from growing. These drugs can be given into a vein through an infusion or tablets and may be offered alongside chemotherapy.

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What are the different types of rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer is a form of bowel cancer and there are many different types depending on which cells the cancer started in. The type of rectal cancer you are diagnosed with can have an impact on the treatment options that are recommended to you. The most common type of bowel cancer is adenocarcinoma, which starts in the gland cells in the lining of the bowel.

Other types of bowel cancers are rarer but include:

  • Squamous cell tumours – Those starting in the skin cells that make up the bowel lining
  • Carcinoid tumours – A slow-growing type of cancer that grows in the body’s hormone-producing tissue
  • Sarcomas – In the bowel sarcomas start in the smooth muscle
  • Lymphomas – Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system.
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What is the rectal cancer survival rate?

Across all types of bowel cancers, including rectal cancer, 57% of patients outlive their diagnosis for 10 years or more. In the UK, there are around 41,000 new cases of bowel cancer each year, with around a third of these being rectal cancer and 15,900 deaths as a result of the disease.

The bowel cancer survival rate is improving, when compared to 40 years ago, the figure has more than doubled in the UK. Around three-quarters of those diagnosed will survive their disease by more than a year and almost 6 in 10 do so for more than a decade. Survival rates are highest among younger people and those aged between 60 and 69, thanks to a screening programme that picks up the disease in the early stages.

The stage at which bowel cancer is diagnosed is also important for survival rates. When diagnosed at the earliest stage over 90% of patients will survive their disease for five years or more, while less than 1 in 10 people do when diagnosed at the latest stage.

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Can I claim for colon cancer misdiagnosis?

Yes. If you’ve been affected by a delay in colon cancer diagnosis you may be able to make a compensation claim. In order to take a successful claim forward, you must be able to prove that the healthcare professionals responsible for your provided you with poor treatment that did not fulfil acceptable standards and that you have suffered a worse outcome as a result.

There are many ways that colon cancer misdiagnosis cases occur, including:

  • The initial symptoms being linked to another condition
  • The signs of colon cancer being dismissed
  • The necessary tests not being ordered despite symptoms being present
  • Test results being read inaccurately
  • Abnormalities in test results not being followed up

It can sometimes be difficult to see whether your case and experiences are due to medical negligence but if you’re unsure we’re here to help you and guide you towards the next steps.

How is colon cancer diagnosed?

If you have the symptoms of colon cancer you should first book an appointment with your GP. During your appointment, your doctor is likely to ask you about your symptoms, family history, and conduct a digital rectal examination to check for lumps. Other tests that may be conducted at your doctors include an examination of your abdomen and a blood test.

If signs indicate that colon cancer is causing your symptoms or the diagnosis is uncertain, further testing at a hospital will be recommended. Tests to obtain a colon cancer diagnosis could include:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – This test examines the rectum and some of the large bowel. A sigmoidoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a camera allowing professionals to view the bowel. It may also be used to conduct a biopsy, where a sample of tissue is removed for lab testing.
  • Colonoscopy – This test is similar to a flexible sigmoidoscopy but allows professionals to examine the entire large bowel.
  • CT colonography – A CT colonography creates 3D images of the large bowel and rectum from different angles. The test can identify areas that may be cancerous and is used when other tests are not suitable.

Further tests to stage colon cancer and see whether the disease has spread beyond the bowel to other areas of the body could involve a CT scan or an MRI scan.

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What causes colon cancer?

Colon cancer is a bowel cancer that specifically starts in the colon, the large bowel, and is often referred to as bowel cancer. As with all types of cancer, colon cancer begins when cells within the body begin to multiply uncontrollably forming masses known as tumours. The exact reason behind what causes cells to behave abnormally in the colon is unknown but there are associated risk factors that means the disease is more likely to develop.

These include:

  • Age – Older people are more at risk of colon cancer occurring, over 90% of cases of the disease are diagnosed in those aged over 60.
  • Family history – Having a close family member that has previously suffered with colon cancer can indicate that your risk is greater. Around 20% of all bowel cancers are associated with hereditary factors.
  • Diet – Over 1 in 5 cases of bowel cancer is linked to eating red and processed meat in the UK, while 12% have been linked to eating too little fibre.
  • Smoking – Those that smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop bowel cancer. It’s estimated that 8% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are linked to tobacco smoking.
  • Alcohol – Colon cancer risk is 21% higher in people who drink around 1.5-6 UK alcohol united per day. Those that consume around 6 units or more per day are 52% more likely to develop colon cancer than occasional drinkers.

Other factors have also been linked to an increased likelihood of colon cancer developing, such as being overweight, existing medical conditions, and exposure to radiation. According to Cancer Research UK over half of all colon cancer cases in the country could be prevented by changes in lifestyle.

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What is the colon cancer survival rate?

According to Cancer Research UK, 57% of patients diagnosed with bowel cancer survive their diagnosis for 10 years or more. However, the survival rate varies depending on a range of factors, such as how quickly the cancer is diagnosed and the age of the patient.

When diagnosed at its earliest stage, more than 9 in 10 people with bowel cancer will survive their disease for 5 years or more, while the figure is less than 1 in 10 when diagnosed at the latest stage. Those in younger age groups are also more likely to survive the disease for longer as are those aged between 60-69 when diagnosed, although this is linked to screening programmes picking up the disease in the earlier stages.

If you would like to make a misdiagnosis of cancer claim, you must do so within 3 years from the ‘date of knowledge’. This term refers to the point that you first realised a mistake had been made in the treatment that you received; this is usually the date of diagnosis in cancer claims. For some patients, this can be a difficult point to assess, especially if it took a long time for an accurate diagnosis to occur or if it’s a complex case. If you’re unsure whether you can still make a colon cancer misdiagnosis claim for a past incident, our expert team is on hand to help you understand.

Despite the 3-year time limit, we recommend that patients start the compensation process as soon as they are able to. This can make the proceedings quicker as it’s typically easier to obtain supporting documentation as evidence the closer to the date of knowledge it occurs.

The amount of compensation a patient that has been affected by colon cancer misdiagnosis depends on a number of factors. Each case depends upon what the patient has suffered personally as a result of the delay and how they have been affected in terms of financial costs they have incurred or how their earnings have been affected. We will consider the full impact a late colon cancer on you and advise you as an individual.

Without fully understanding your case and personal experience we can’t tell you how much compensation you would receive if your colon cancer misdiagnosis claim was successful. But our expert team of professional solicitors are on hand to help you. With our knowledge and understanding, we will value your claim, taking the impact the misdiagnosis of colon cancer on your life into full consideration. If you would like to learn more about how much your case could be worth you can contact us.

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Whatever the nature of your rectal cancer negligence claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard rectal cancer negligence claims.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point, you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

Yes, it is possible to make a compensation claim for bowel cancer if you’re misdiagnosed, suffered a delay in diagnosis, were treated incorrectly or poorly. In order to make a successful claim you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that you received a level of care that is sub-standard to what you should be able to expect, this could include tests not being ordered when you presented the signs of colon cancer or a delay in receiving the treatment you need.

Here is some more detail of what you could make a bowel cancer claim for:

Misdiagnosis

There are several different conditions, such as IBS or haemorrhoids, which have similar symptoms to bowel cancer. This means that unless the doctor is thorough with their questioning and conducts the necessary tests it’s possible for bowel cancer to be misdiagnosed as one of these. Misdiagnosed bowel cancer means you won’t receive the medical treatment and care that you need and can affect the odds of surviving the disease significantly, especially if the cancer further develops before the correct diagnosis is given. If you went to your GP with bowel cancer symptoms and do not feel they took the steps they should have to diagnose you, you could have a compensation claim.

Delay in treatment

A delayed diagnosis of bowel cancer can mean a delay in beginning treatment for your condition. In some cases, you may experience a delay in treatment even if you were diagnosed quickly. Efficient and effective treatment can have a huge impact on the success of the medical care, and if you’ve experienced a delay in your bowel cancer treatment we may be able to help you make a compensation claim. The story of Mr Lapworth’s experience of claiming on behalf of his wife reveals just how much impact delays in treatment can have.

Incorrect treatment

Your treatment for bowel cancer should depend on your individual circumstances and be decided by a team of medical professionals. However, if the wrong choice is made it can mean the chances of success are lower. Colon cancer treatment should give you the best chance possible to beat the disease and if this hasn’t been the case you may be able to make compensation against those responsible for the decision.

Poor treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with bowel cancer you should be able to expect the team responsible for your care to treat you properly. Poor treatment can lead to other issues that can impact your health as well as your mental wellbeing. For instance, if you underwent surgery but were not adequately looked after following it you could, for example, pick up an infection that hinders your recovery.

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The amount of compensation you will receive if you experienced bowel cancer medical negligence will depend on your case and individual circumstances; however, we can give examples of other cases to give you an idea.

A 63-year-old woman experienced a delay in diagnosis of bowel cancer, despite a history of ulcerative colitis and the acknowledge links between the conditions from her doctor. Unfortunately, the delay meant the cancer had spread to other areas of her body and was too advanced for treatment. Her husband was awarded £150,000 in compensation.

If you take your claim forward, we will calculate the value of your claim based on several different factors as well as general damages for the pain and suffering the negligence has resulted in. We will also consider areas such as the impact the negligence has had on your quality of life, the effect on your earnings and the potential need to pay for care in the future.

Once your claim has been valued, you will then need to prove your losses to the court to be successful. Financial losses are quantifiable in some cases, such as through financial documents and payslips. In other cases, you can show your medical treatment record to support your claims, such as those indicating the level of pain you were experiencing at the time.

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Making a bowel cancer claim with us usually follows 10 simple steps, which begins with obtaining medical records, statements, and establishing what breach of duty occurred and what effect it had. As well as this, we establish your loss, including lost earnings (past and future) and the cost of lifestyle adaptions such as additional treatment and home accessibility. For a small number of cases, this process may include going to court but this is rare and we will ensure your case fully prepared for this scenario.

If you have been affected by medical negligence it may be possible to make a compensation claim against those responsible. However, you must make a claim within 3 years from the ‘date of knowledge’. In rectal cancer cases, this is usually the date of diagnosis.

‘Date of knowledge’ can be a confusing term but it simply refers to the point where you first realised that there had been a mistake and you were let down by the people responsible for your care. For some cases, it’s simple to pinpoint this date but in others, it can be more complex. Before receiving an accurate diagnosis it’s possible for the misdiagnosis of rectal cancer to occur several times, linking the symptoms to multiple other conditions. If you’re unsure of whether you have a claim, we can help you. Our expert team are available to listen to your experience and better help you understand if your case falls within the 3-year time limit.

You do have up to 3 years to make a claim in Court but we advise that those affected by misdiagnosed rectal cancer or any other form of medical negligence seek professional advice as soon as possible.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

If you’re still undergoing treatment or are recovering, we know that taking on a claims process may be the last thing you want to do. But starting the process sooner can both help your case and you. By starting sooner, the whole process will also be concluded quicker too, giving you access to the compensation you have secured if successful, this can be a weight off your mind if you have financial pressures.

Your case will be supported by a witness statement that you give, detailing your experience. Writing this statement as close to the ‘date of knowledge’ as possible means that you’ll be better able to recall all the details. We will also gather other evidence, such as medical records and scans, and these are often easier to obtain if you seek legal advice soon after you realise you have been affected by negligence.

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In some instances, colon cancer misdiagnosis can occur, as the symptoms can be confused with other conditions or the correct tests are not ordered. It’s estimated that across all types of cancer around 10% of cases are initially misdiagnosed. This means a delay in treatment and can potentially have a significant impact on survival rates and the type of treatment that is needed.

Colon cancer misdiagnosed as diverticulitis

Diverticulitis affects the large intestine, or colon, and has symptoms that are also associated with bowel cancer, such as abdominal pain and feeling bloated.  This means that unless your GP conducts the necessary tests to rule out bowel cancer, it can be mislabelled as diverticulitis. 

Colon cancer misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a common digestive problem that causes bouts of symptoms such as bloating and diarrhoea or constipation. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe but in some cases, bowel cancer can wrongly by diagnosed as IBS. If the symptoms are mild, it can mean that a doctor doesn’t link the signs with cancer at first but believes it is IBS.

Colon cancer misdiagnosed as ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease, the symptoms tend to flare up and are similar to those of bowel cancer, including abdominal pain and recurring diarrhoea. Ulcerative colitis is often misdiagnosed as colon cancer and vice-versa, as a result of the similar symptoms.

Colon cancer misdiagnosed as haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids, or piles, are swellings containing enlarged blood vessels that are found inside or around the rectum. As bowel cancer can also cause swelling this can mean bowel cancer is misdiagnosed as haemorrhoids. However, piles aren’t typically associated with other symptoms of colon cancer.

In order to prevent misdiagnosis, there should be steps that GPs and other medical professionals take. Diagnosis of colon cancer will include a digital rectal examination conducted by the GP. If the symptoms suggest that you do have colon cancer a colonoscopy or computerised tomography colonography can be used to conduct a more extensive examination of the colon. Once bowel cancer is confirmed it’s likely that further testing will be carried out to see if the cancer has spread.

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Bowel cancer has many causes, such as age, diet and whether or not you smoke or drink. However, the only causes of bowel cancer that have a bearing on whether or not you can claim are:

Family history – if you have two or more first-degree relatives (parent, sibling or child) that have had bowel cancer, or one relative with a genetic condition linked to bowel cancer, you may have a higher risk of developing the condition yourself. Genetic conditions including Lynch Syndrome (also known as HNPCC), FAP (Familial Adenomatous Polyposis) and MAP (MUTYH Associated Polyposis) also increase your risk.

Pre-existing conditions – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are known to increase the risk of bowel cancer.

If you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, or have explained your family history of bowel cancer, and your healthcare professional did not carry out appropriate tests, you may have had your treatment delayed and as such could make a bowel cancer claim.

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Cancer initially starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. These abnormal cells start to grow into polyps which than take around 10 to 15 years before they turn into colon cancer. It is possible for polyps to be picked up and removed before they become cancer through regular pre-screening tests. Those that are at an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, such as having a family history of the disease, may be invited to such screenings.

There are signs of colorectal cancer that should signal that you should visit your doctor to undergo tests for bowel cancer.  The symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stools which often looks like coffee grounds
  • A change in normal bowel habits
  • A lump that your doctor can feel in your rectum or stomach, more commonly on the right side
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating that is brought on by eating

More than 90% of those suffering with bowel cancer experience with a persistent change in bowel habit, blood in their stool or abdominal pain and those with these symptoms should visit their GP if they persist for more than 4 weeks. Unfortunately, some of the signs of bowel cancer can be misinterpreted for other conditions, such as IBS or haemorrhoids, leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment.

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The treatment for colon cancer varies depending on a number of factors, including how advanced it is and which part of the bowl is affected. If it’s caught during the early stages, there is a very good chance that treatment will be successful and prevent bowel cancer coming back in the future. However, a cure isn’t always possible.

If you’ve been diagnosed with bowel cancer you’ll be cared for by a multidisciplinary team that will decide on your personal treatment, considering a variety of factors. Your bowel cancer treatment may combine chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and biological treatments, but surgery is the main treatment for most colorectal cancer.

If you have received treatment for bowel cancer that was inappropriate for your condition, or have been misdiagnosed and received unnecessary treatment, you may be able to make a medical negligence claim.

As with other forms of cancer, the survival rate for colon cancer is improving every year. According to Cancer Research, men have a 77% chance of beating the disease, while women have a 74% chance. The colon cancer survival rate can vary depending on how quickly the cancer is identified and treatment begins. Some 98% of patients that are diagnosed during the initial stages survive the disease for at least one year but this falls to 40% when diagnosed at stage 4.

If you’ve been affected by rectal cancer misdiagnosis or another form of medical negligence, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. To bring a successful case forward you will need to demonstrate that those responsible for your care failed to provide you with the appropriate standard of care and that as a result, you have had a worse outcome from your treatment.

Misdiagnosed rectal cancer can occur for many reasons, including:

  • A GP failing to notice the symptoms of rectal cancer
  • Your doctor not conducting the necessary examinations during your appointment
  • A failure to refer for further testing despite signs of rectal cancer
  • Test results being read inaccurately
  • A bowel specialist failing to recognise the signs of rectal cancer
  • Abnormalities failing to be followed up
  • An unnecessary delay in referral or treatment

When you first visit your GP with concerns about your health and the signs of rectal cancer they will usually carry out a digital rectal examination and examine your abdomen. They may also conduct a blood test to see if you have an iron deficiency, although a lack of iron doesn’t always indicate rectal cancer.

If your symptoms suggest you may have rectal cancer, your GP should refer you to a hospital for further testing by a bowel specialist. The main test used to diagnose rectal cancer is a colonoscopy. This involves a medical professional using a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end to examine the inside of the bowel. Other tests that may be conducted include a sigmoidoscopy, which looks inside the rectum, and a CT scan.

Rectal cancer is more likely to be treatable if it’s detected during the early stages before symptoms appear. The NHS operates a bowel cancer screening programme to detect cancer during the initial stage. All men and women aged between 60 and 74 are sent a home test kit to highlight potentially cancerous cells that return an abnormal result, indicating that further testing should be conducted.

After diagnosis, it’s likely that further testing will also be needed to assess the size and position of the cancer and find out if it has spread to other areas of the body. Staging and grading cancer is an important step as it can affect the treatment options that the team responsible for your care recommend. These tests could include:

  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • PET scan
  • Blood tests for a protein called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)
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Rectal cancer symptoms during the early stages of the disease can often be subtle, gradually worsening as the cancer develops. However, in 90% of bowel cancer cases patients do experience symptoms, signalling that they should visit their GP for further testing. Symptoms of rectal cancer include:

  • Blood in your stools
  • A change in your bowel habits that happens for no obvious reason and is persistent
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain in the abdomen or back passage
  • Feeling as though you haven’t emptied your bowel properly after a bowel movement
  • Unexplained tiredness

In some cases, the cancer can cause an obstruction in the bowel. An obstruction in the bowel can cause other symptoms, such as constipation, vomiting, and gripping pain in the abdomen.

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It is possible for rectal cancer misdiagnosis to occur. The symptoms of rectal cancer can be similar to many other conditions, leading to doctors dismissing the signs or linking them to other causes. An accurate and quick diagnosis often relies on a GP spotting the initial signs and ordering follow up tests to highlight any abnormalities. Where this hasn’t occurred, it is possible for a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis to happen.

Conditions it’s possible for rectal cancer to be misdiagnosed as include:

  • Diverticulitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Haemorrhoids

All patients that are diagnosed with bowel cancer are treated by a multidisciplinary team, which is made up of specialists in different areas. Each individual’s treatment plan is created with their circumstances in mind, such as their general health or whether the cancer has developed. The team responsible for your care will talk you through the different options and make recommendations but the final decision on which treatment you will undergo will remain with you.

Treatment for rectal cancer typically involves one or a combination of the following:

Surgery

An operation to remove a cancerous tumour is the most common form of treatment for rectal cancer. An operation called a total mesorectal excision (TME) is the most common type of surgery carried out and involves removing part or all the rectum. The extent of the TME will depend on the size of the cancer. Following surgery, some people have to wear a stoma temporarily and in rare cases may need to wear one permanently.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs are used to kill cancerous cells and can be given through an injection, tablets, or capsules. This treatment option is often given in conjunction with radiotherapy to provide a complete solution or after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to treat cancer by destroying the cells. It can also be used to relieve the symptoms of rectal cancer when a cure isn’t possible.

Biological therapies

Biological therapies, also known as targeted therapies, are anti-cancer medicines that affect processes within cancerous cells, preventing them from growing. These drugs can be given into a vein through an infusion or tablets and may be offered alongside chemotherapy.

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Rectal cancer is a form of bowel cancer and there are many different types depending on which cells the cancer started in. The type of rectal cancer you are diagnosed with can have an impact on the treatment options that are recommended to you. The most common type of bowel cancer is adenocarcinoma, which starts in the gland cells in the lining of the bowel.

Other types of bowel cancers are rarer but include:

  • Squamous cell tumours – Those starting in the skin cells that make up the bowel lining
  • Carcinoid tumours – A slow-growing type of cancer that grows in the body’s hormone-producing tissue
  • Sarcomas – In the bowel sarcomas start in the smooth muscle
  • Lymphomas – Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system.
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Across all types of bowel cancers, including rectal cancer, 57% of patients outlive their diagnosis for 10 years or more. In the UK, there are around 41,000 new cases of bowel cancer each year, with around a third of these being rectal cancer and 15,900 deaths as a result of the disease.

The bowel cancer survival rate is improving, when compared to 40 years ago, the figure has more than doubled in the UK. Around three-quarters of those diagnosed will survive their disease by more than a year and almost 6 in 10 do so for more than a decade. Survival rates are highest among younger people and those aged between 60 and 69, thanks to a screening programme that picks up the disease in the early stages.

The stage at which bowel cancer is diagnosed is also important for survival rates. When diagnosed at the earliest stage over 90% of patients will survive their disease for five years or more, while less than 1 in 10 people do when diagnosed at the latest stage.

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Yes. If you’ve been affected by a delay in colon cancer diagnosis you may be able to make a compensation claim. In order to take a successful claim forward, you must be able to prove that the healthcare professionals responsible for your provided you with poor treatment that did not fulfil acceptable standards and that you have suffered a worse outcome as a result.

There are many ways that colon cancer misdiagnosis cases occur, including:

  • The initial symptoms being linked to another condition
  • The signs of colon cancer being dismissed
  • The necessary tests not being ordered despite symptoms being present
  • Test results being read inaccurately
  • Abnormalities in test results not being followed up

It can sometimes be difficult to see whether your case and experiences are due to medical negligence but if you’re unsure we’re here to help you and guide you towards the next steps.

If you have the symptoms of colon cancer you should first book an appointment with your GP. During your appointment, your doctor is likely to ask you about your symptoms, family history, and conduct a digital rectal examination to check for lumps. Other tests that may be conducted at your doctors include an examination of your abdomen and a blood test.

If signs indicate that colon cancer is causing your symptoms or the diagnosis is uncertain, further testing at a hospital will be recommended. Tests to obtain a colon cancer diagnosis could include:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – This test examines the rectum and some of the large bowel. A sigmoidoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a camera allowing professionals to view the bowel. It may also be used to conduct a biopsy, where a sample of tissue is removed for lab testing.
  • Colonoscopy – This test is similar to a flexible sigmoidoscopy but allows professionals to examine the entire large bowel.
  • CT colonography – A CT colonography creates 3D images of the large bowel and rectum from different angles. The test can identify areas that may be cancerous and is used when other tests are not suitable.

Further tests to stage colon cancer and see whether the disease has spread beyond the bowel to other areas of the body could involve a CT scan or an MRI scan.

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Colon cancer is a bowel cancer that specifically starts in the colon, the large bowel, and is often referred to as bowel cancer. As with all types of cancer, colon cancer begins when cells within the body begin to multiply uncontrollably forming masses known as tumours. The exact reason behind what causes cells to behave abnormally in the colon is unknown but there are associated risk factors that means the disease is more likely to develop.

These include:

  • Age – Older people are more at risk of colon cancer occurring, over 90% of cases of the disease are diagnosed in those aged over 60.
  • Family history – Having a close family member that has previously suffered with colon cancer can indicate that your risk is greater. Around 20% of all bowel cancers are associated with hereditary factors.
  • Diet – Over 1 in 5 cases of bowel cancer is linked to eating red and processed meat in the UK, while 12% have been linked to eating too little fibre.
  • Smoking – Those that smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop bowel cancer. It’s estimated that 8% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are linked to tobacco smoking.
  • Alcohol – Colon cancer risk is 21% higher in people who drink around 1.5-6 UK alcohol united per day. Those that consume around 6 units or more per day are 52% more likely to develop colon cancer than occasional drinkers.

Other factors have also been linked to an increased likelihood of colon cancer developing, such as being overweight, existing medical conditions, and exposure to radiation. According to Cancer Research UK over half of all colon cancer cases in the country could be prevented by changes in lifestyle.

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According to Cancer Research UK, 57% of patients diagnosed with bowel cancer survive their diagnosis for 10 years or more. However, the survival rate varies depending on a range of factors, such as how quickly the cancer is diagnosed and the age of the patient.

When diagnosed at its earliest stage, more than 9 in 10 people with bowel cancer will survive their disease for 5 years or more, while the figure is less than 1 in 10 when diagnosed at the latest stage. Those in younger age groups are also more likely to survive the disease for longer as are those aged between 60-69 when diagnosed, although this is linked to screening programmes picking up the disease in the earlier stages.