Global search

Primary navigation

Every year, more than 5,300 Australians die from bowel cancer – that’s around 100 people each week. While it is one of the most treatable cancers when detected early, often it is diagnosed far too late.

We often hear stories about missed opportunities to diagnose bowel cancer at an earlier stage. Whether due to misdiagnosis, a failure to acknowledge a patient’s symptoms or perform the appropriate investigations, a delay in the diagnosis can result in devastating injuries and in some cases, avoidable death.

Our client, Bronwyn, has shared her story to raise awareness about bowel cancer and the importance of early detection, particularly in young adults.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

Not everyone will have symptoms of bowel cancer in the early stages however it is important to be aware of the warning signs and to see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • persistent changes in bowel habits
  • blood in stools
  • abdominal bloating, cramping or pain
  • unexplained loss of appetite.

 

Bronwyn’s story

Bronwyn was 27 years’ old when she started experiencing rectal bleeding and abdominal pain. In 2016, Bronwyn saw her general practitioner and was referred to hospital but was later discharged.

Bronwyn continued to suffer symptoms and was later referred by her general practitioner for an urgent endoscopy. She was assessed as being a “Category 1” patient and in need of review.

Critically, Bronwyn was not advised that she was a Category 1 patient and was not provided with an appointment to investigate her symptoms.

In 2019, Bronwyn again presented to her general practitioner with abdominal pain and bleeding. In December 2019, she underwent a colonoscopy which discovered a mass in her colon. Bronwyn was subsequently diagnosed with a Stage 3 bowel cancer.  

Bronwyn required surgery in December 2019 and was required to undergo chemotherapy.

It is alleged that had Bronwyn been provided with a colonoscopy in 2016, it’s likely that a polyp or early stage cancer would have been discovered and treated at an earlier time. It is likely that had this occurred, Bronwyn would have had a better prognosis. 

Bronwyn comments that “there should not be an age limit for a colonoscopy, doctors need to ensure anyone who has symptoms is tested, regardless of age”.

Asking for the right medical treatment

If you have any unexplained symptoms, you should consult with your medical practitioner. If your symptoms haven’t resolved or you aren’t satisfied with the explanation or treatment provided, you are within your rights to seek a second opinion or ask for a referral to a specialist.

If there are delays in seeing a specialist or receiving appointment details from the hospital, you are within your rights to follow up your appointment. Be sure to advise your referring doctor if any of your symptoms have changed or if there has been any change in your symptoms so that the full extent and severity of your symptoms are known.

What to do if you experience a delay in diagnosis

If you have experienced a delay in the diagnosis of your cancer, you should get advice as soon as possible.

If you have suffered an injury as a result of unreasonable medical treatment, or delayed diagnosis, contact us for a confidential and free discussion. We can talk to you about your situation and whether you may be entitled to compensation.

Our medical injury work

Our team of specialist lawyers are here to help you understand your legal options and to achieve the best possible outcome for you.