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Effects of a Late Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer

If bladder cancer is not diagnosed in a timely fashion, a patient's treatment will be considerably more extensive than if it had been diagnosed in the early stages.

Consequences of a delayed bladder cancer diagnosis

As with all cancers, the longer a bladder tumour remains untreated, the larger it will grow. This will have a number of devastating consequences for the patient in question whose treatment plan will be more invasive, and therefore result in more complications, than if the tumour was in the early stages.

Firstly, it may be necessary for a patient to have radical cystectomy surgery where the bladder is removed entirely. An ileal conduit is then left in situ which collects urine in a bag positioned on the outside of the body. While this has a low complication rate, it will cause many patients to develop body image issues, and most will need to alter the way they dress in order to cover up the bag.

Secondly, it is probable that chemotherapy and radiotherapy will be required. Both forms of treatment can be particularly traumatic, especially when high doses are being given. Many patients will feel very sick and tired because of chemotherapy, while some even need to be admitted to hospital to control the vomiting.

Radiotherapy also carries unpleasant side effects. It will commonly cause a patient to suffer an extreme skin reaction, with reddening and painful skin breakdown around the pelvic area. It can also lead to lymphoedema, which is when the body's tissue becomes swollen. Bladder cancer patients will normally develop this problem in their groin and thigh. Additionally, radiotherapy can cause neuropathy, whereby the nerves become damaged, resulting in pins and needles and the loss of sensation in the hands and feet.

Thirdly, if bladder cancer remains untreated, it is possible that it will spread to other parts of the body. This will reduce a patient's chance of survival, and make treatment even more extensive.

Are doctors to blame for your delayed diagnosis?

If doctors are to blame for the delayed diagnosis of your bladder cancer, you could be in a position to make a medical negligence claim. This will commonly occur if doctors failed to make a timely diagnosis, despite a patient repeatedly seeking help for their symptoms. If this has happened to you and you have consequently had to undergo traumatic cancer treatment (which could have been avoided with an early diagnosis), or your life expectancy has been reduced, you could be entitled to compensation.

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