A colon and rectal surgeon’s ineffective efforts to prevent the spread of cancer in one of his patients caused him to be the subject of a lawsuit. After a flexible sigmoidoscopy revealed cancerous ulcers obstructing a male patient’s distal descending colon, he immediately underwent a colectomy. However, when recurrent cancer with metastasis began to spread through the patient, it was alleged that some part of the cancerous colon had not been removed. The cancer persisted despite aggressive chemotherapy, and the patient became despondent, claiming that he would not need to face life-threatening consequences had the preventative measures been better implemented. For the ensuing malpractice lawsuit, a Colon and Rectal Surgeon was asked to comment on the procedure and preventability of the patient’s condition.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
1. How often do you perform colectomies for distal descending colon cancers?
2. What care is taken and what modalities are used to ensure all of the cancerous colon is removed?
Expert Witness Response E-112388
I perform colectomies roughly once per week. Adherence to basic oncologic principles ensures that all cancerous material is always removed. Also, a flexible sigmoidoscopy can be done intraoperatively to ensure the entire cancer is removed; without knowing the full details of the case, it’s unclear if I have seen this complication before.