Maybe you just received a rectal or colon cancer diagnosis and you’re wondering: what is the colorectal cancer survival rate? There are countless scary statistics about survival rates on the worldwide web, so before you read up on this information, it’s important to remember that everyone’s bodies and diseases are different. Generally though, the average colorectal cancer survival rate will depend on a variety of factors including the patient’s overall health, how far the cancer has spread, whether or not diagnostic errors are involved, and more. Albany cancer misdiagnosis lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck explain all this and more below.
If you or someone you love has suffered major illness, injury, or death from diagnostic errors, you need top-notch legal representation on your side. The legal team at Bailey, Johnson & Peck has extensive experience in handling all sorts of medical malpractice cases. We have what it takes to win a fair settlement on your behalf. Call 518-456-0082 to schedule a free consultation with us today.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a disease where cancer cells grow inside the colon or rectum or both. Colon cancer and rectal cancer will often begin with polyps which are basically small clumps of cells that may or may not cause uncomfortable digestive symptoms.
Polyps in and of themselves are not necessarily dangerous or cancerous. However, some of these polyps can grow into larger, cancerous growths. It’s important to note that not all polyps turn into cancer. But still, it’s crucial to receive regular colonoscopies, especially after age 50. Colonoscopies allow doctors to monitor the growth of polyps and even remove polyps, if necessary.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Common symptoms of colon or rectum cancer include:
- A significant change in bowel habits such as frequent constipation or diarrhea
- A significant change in the consistency of stool
- Bloody stools or rectal bleeding
- Frequent stomach pain, cramps, and gas
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling like you can’t fully empty your bowels
- Chronic fatigue or weakness
The frequency and severity of colon or rectal cancer symptoms will heavily depend on how far the cancer has spread. Many cancer patients have very few symptoms in the early stages of their cancer. Meanwhile, people in the later stages of cancer will likely have very severe and frequent digestive symptoms.
Rectal and Colon Cancer Treatment Options
The treatment plan for colon and rectal cancer can depend on a particular person’s case. However, the most common rectal and colon cancer treatment is a combination of chemotherapy (or radiation) and surgery. Surgery allows doctors to remove the cancerous polyps in the colon and rectum while chemotherapy and radiation kills cancer cells all over the body. Especially in its early stages, colorectal cancer responds well to this treatment plan.
U.S. Colorectal Cancer Statistics
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed type of cancer (excluding skin cancers) in the U.S. according to the American Cancer Society. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 106,000 cases of colon cancer and more than 44,000 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2022.
While these numbers are scary, there is some good news: colorectal incidence statistics have improved over the last several decades, specifically in older adults. The American Cancer Society claims that colorectal cancer incidence rates have decreased by 1% every year between the years of 2013 and 2017. This doesn’t sound like much, but it is progress. Doctors believe this small decrease is attributed to more frequent colonoscopies and healthier lifestyles.
Colorectal Cancer Five Year Relative Survival Rates
Early detection is key for individual survival rates for colorectal cancer. Additionally, everyone’s body and disease is different. Don’t allow these survival statistics to make you think your (or your loved one’s) rectal or colon cancer prognosis will be the same. Modern medicine has provided us with many tools and technologies to fight colorectal cancer.
The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program with the National Cancer Institute states that the 5 year relative survival rate for rectal and colon cancer was just over 65% between the years of 2012 and 2018. This means that just over 65% of rectal and colon cancer patients will still be alive after 5 years. Colorectal cancer survival rates heavily depend on the following SEER stages:
- Localized Cancer means that the cancer cells have not spread outside the organ where the cancer started. So localized colorectal cancer means that cancer cells only exist inside the colon and rectum. 5 year relative survival rates are 91% for localized colon cancer and 90% for localized rectal cancer according to the American Cancer Society.
- Regional Cancer means that the cancer has spread outside of the original organ it was found in. So in the case of colon or rectal cancer, maybe the disease spread to the liver, stomach, or nearby lymph nodes. The 5 year relative survival rate is 72% for colon cancer and 73% for rectum cancer.
- Distant Cancer occurs when rectal or colon cancer metastasizes (spreads) to distant organs such as the lungs, brain, or distant lymph nodes. 5 year relative survival rates for distant stages of colon and rectum cancer are 14% and 17%.
What Factors Affect the Colorectal Cancer Survival Rate?
Someone’s individual 5 year relative survival rate for colon or rectal cancer will heavily depend on many factors, such as the cancer stage, the cancer cell grade, diagnostic errors, lymph node involvement, general health, and the presence of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).
Cancer is most commonly staged with the American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM system, which is basically the infamous four stages of cancer. People diagnosed with stage I rectal or colon cancer naturally have a much higher survival rate than those who have stage IV cancer.
Cancer Cell Grade
Cancer cell grade can also give a doctor a good idea of their patient’s 5 year relative survival rate. In order to determine cancer cell grade, doctors must microscopically compare cancerous cells to healthy cells. Very abnormal looking cells are assigned a higher cell grade. Generally speaking, the higher the cell grade, the lower the 5 year relative survival rate.
Timely and accurate diagnosis also plays a huge role in cancer survival statistics. For example, let’s say you go to your doctor complaining of mild stomach pain and frequent constipation. Maybe your doctor does a physical exam, runs some blood work, and determines that nothing is wrong with you. Maybe they tell you to switch up your diet a bit and then they send you home.
Over the course of a few months or years, maybe your digestive symptoms get worse and you now notice blood in your stool on a regular basis. You go back to the doctor, they perform a colonoscopy, and determine that you have late stage colorectal cancer.
People who receive a cancer misdiagnosis have much higher mortality rates. That’s because early detection is key for survival in many colorectal cancer cases. If you or your loved one’s health has drastically deteriorated due to an incorrect or delayed diagnosis of cancer, you may have grounds to file a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit. An Albany cancer misdiagnosis lawyer at Bailey, Johnson & Peck can review the facts of your case and help you determine what your legal options are.
Lymph Node Involvement
The lymphatic system is basically your body’s “sewerage system.” It filters out waste and helps the immune system function optimally. In some cases, cancer will spread to regional lymph nodes or distant lymph nodes. Generally speaking, the more lymph nodes that contain cancer cells, the lower 5 year relative survival rates will be.
Overall Health and Age
Younger people who follow a healthy lifestyle will have the highest chances of cancer survival. That’s because younger, healthier bodies will be better able to respond to aggressive treatment. For example, a 50 year old will likely have a higher cancer survival rate than an 80 year old.
The Presence of Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA)
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a type of protein found in the blood. Some colorectal cancer patients have high levels of CEA in their blood which can help determine the body’s response to cancer treatment like chemotherapy and radiation.
Can I Sue if My Colorectal Cancer Was Misdiagnosed?
Yes, you can certainly sue your doctor or hospital if you received an incorrect or delayed colorectal cancer diagnosis. Cancer grows rapidly. Our Albany cancer misdiagnosis lawyers can help you gather sufficient evidence to prove that you had a much higher survival rate if your doctor had correctly diagnosed you months or years ago.
You can also file a wrongful death lawsuit against your doctor if your loved one died due to cancer misdiagnosis. These types of medical malpractice claims can be quite complex which is why you need top-notch legal counsel on your side. An Albany cancer misdiagnosis lawyer at Bailey, Johnson & Peck can help you recover fair financial compensation for your loved one’s cancer death.
Damages for Diagnostic Errors
If you suffered major health consequences due to a diagnostic error, you could recover financial compensation for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future rehabilitative bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Counseling expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses if the diagnostic error resulted in wrongful death
New York Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims
Due to Lavern’s Law, New York victims of cancer misdiagnosis have 2.5 years from the day they discovered their misdiagnosed cancer or 2.5 years from the day of their last treatment to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is a tight window, so you must contact an Albany medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to have the best case outcome.
Call Albany Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck Today
Cancer is a devastating, aggressive disease that requires the best medical care possible. Cancer survival rates heavily depend on accurate and timely diagnosis. If you or someone you love has suffered major health consequences due to a cancer misdiagnosis, you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Call Albany medical malpractice lawyers at 518-456-0082 to schedule a free consultation.