When it comes to any type of cancer, one of the keys to successful treatment and remission in a patient is to catch the disease as early as possible. Not only is recovery more likely, the treatment itself is often less invasive and patients can often undergo those treatments with minimal disruption to their lives. The American Cancer Society has issued several recommendations for when people should be screened for specific types of cancers. For example, women between 40-55 should get annual mammograms in an attempt to diagnose breast cancer. Both men and women should generally be screened for colon and/or rectal cancer via a colonoscopy every 10 years, starting at age 50. Suggestions are also made for more frequent, and less invasive tests, which are also less conclusive. Men between 45-50 are encouraged to talk to their doctors about screening for prostate cancer, depending on their family history or perceived risk factors. It’s also recommended that most women between 21-65 should undergo testing every 3-5 years for cervical cancer.

Cancer Outside the Box

While it is generally good to have standard recommendations, there is the potential that cancers that happen early or outside the standard recommendations may be missed because doctors may see them as less of a possibility. For example, according to the Colon Cancer Alliance reports that 10% of colon cancer is diagnosed in patients under 50, and the mortality rate for younger onset colon and rectal cancer is higher than it is for older patients. Also, physician related delays, such as missing symptoms, and misdiagnosis, have been estimated to be a factor is up to half of young onset colon cancer.

Rates of early onset prostate cancer are also around 10%, and it is usually more aggressive in younger patients. And some other common cancers, might also be missed while doctors are focused on following standard recommendations.

Dangers of Overscreening

There are cases, too, when screening for cancer can be overdone. The colonoscopy has the potential to result in perforation, and both false positive and false negative test results can result in either excess stress or inappropriate or delayed treatment.

If you have had a delayed or missed diagnosis of cancer, or have suffered from side effects of invasive cancer testing there is a chance that some of the suffering and expense you went through could have been avoided. A medical malpractice attorney can review the circumstances that happened with your testing, or lack of test and diagnosis and let you know if pursuing compensation might be right for you and your family.

Sources: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/findcancerearly/cancerscreeningguidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/screening/hp-screening-overview-pdq#link/_2_toc, http://www.ccalliance.org/young-and-brave/know-the-facts/, http://www.mcancer.org/news/archive/prostate-cancer-young-men-more-frequent-and-more-aggressive