Powerful AdvocacyOn Your Side

Irritable bowel syndrome: A deadly misdiagnosis?

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2021 | Misdiagnosis

Individuals rely on medical professionals to quickly arrive at a correct diagnosis so a potentially life-saving course of treatment can begin. Unfortunately, a missed diagnosis, a delayed diagnosis or an incorrect diagnosis can lead to worsening conditions or fatal complications.

Doctors might find it challenging to arrive at a correct diagnosis even with numerous tests and medical histories at their disposal. This can become complicated when several conditions share similar symptoms. This was the case recently when a woman complained of numerous symptoms that left her primary care physician perplexed. Ultimately, the doctor misdiagnosed her with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). She continued treatment with various medications for three years to no avail. Eventually, further examination revealed that she had struggled with colon cancer rather than IBS. Due to the delay in treatment, her chances for survival are unclear.

Do they have similar symptoms?

Unfortunately, bowel cancer and IBS share several symptoms such as diarrhea, weight loss, stomach pain, cramping and blood in the stool. One factor that contributed to the misdiagnosis was age. The patient presented when she was 39 years old. This type of cancer is more common in those 50 years and older.

While experts have historically linked colorectal cancer to individuals older than 50, the rate in younger patients has been increasing for the last three decades. Numerous institutes are studying this trend in an effort to uncover the reasons behind this trend. Some factors they are researching include environmental toxins and the use of pesticides.

A delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis can have devastating repercussions. It is crucial that the medical facility and the health care professional are held accountable for these potentially life-threatening mistakes.