An Atlanta-area veteran passed away from colon cancer after being refused treatment despite testing positive for the disease.Read More
It took a trip to the emergency room suffering from severe abdominal pain for the veteran to finally get a colonoscopy – six months after his positive screening.
By then it was too late for anything to be done and on October 31 he passed away, almost one year to the day that he first screened positive for colon cancer.
Further research reveals that this man is just one of the over 17,000 veterans in the Atlanta-area whose applications for community care have been delayed or denied. A number of these veterans have been waiting longer than six months.
Darin Selznick, a senior advisor to the previous two Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and the man who directed implementation of the Mission Act meant to improve healthcare access for veterans, lamented this “complete failure” by the Atlanta VA.
“Their systems are failing; their management is failing, and their staff is failing. A whole cascade of failures,” said Selznick.
The VA said in a statement: ““We send our deepest condolences to the veteran’s family for their loss. Based upon our initial review, every effort was made to appropriately coordinate the veteran’s care in accordance to VA policy.
“We respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time and cannot provide additional details regarding the veteran’s healthcare.”
Colorectal Cancer Screenings
Earlier this year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released its revised colon cancer screening recommendations.
In its new recommendations, the USPSTF lowered the age at which it recommended screenings to 45 while at the same time urging clinicians to offer the option of screenings to those between the ages of 76 and 85 deemed to be in good health.
“Discuss together with patients the decision to screen, taking into consideration the patient’s overall health status (life expectancy, comorbid conditions), prior screening history, and preferences,” the panel said.
The USPSTF-accepted forms of testing for colorectal cancer are:
- High-sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood test (HSgFOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year
- Stool DNA-FIT every 1 to 3 years
- Computed tomography colonography every five years
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every ten years + annual FIT
- Colonoscopy screening every ten years
Colorectal Cancer Facts
Symptoms of colon cancer include:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that last for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which might make it look dark brown or black
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Losing weight without trying
Since these issues can also be common symptoms for other illnesses and sometimes aren’t always a cause for concern, it’s generally best to see a doctor to be on the safe side.
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