Failure to Diagnose Esophageal or Stomach Cancers

While a cancer diagnosis can be deadly enough on its own, the danger of the situation is only compounded when doctors fail to make a proper diagnosis or a correct diagnosis in a timely manner. This is especially true with esophageal cancer as the survival rate for the disease is low in later stages. Esophageal cancer symptoms usually aren’t apparent until the cancer is already advanced, contributing to the difficulty in curing it. This means that an accurate diagnosis is vital when symptoms appear.

Without appropriate diagnosis, the outlook for esophageal cancer is grim, as even a small delay gives the disease time to spread to other parts of the body. Contributing to the problems with the disease is the fact that many of its symptoms may appear similar to other less serious health conditions. This type of cancer can first be mistaken for issues like acid reflux or esophagitis, but without a proper diagnosis, the cancer will often spread to organs like the liver, lungs, and stomach and symptoms will become more severe.

What is Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is caused by a malignant tumor in the esophagus, the organ that serves as a pathway between the mouth and the stomach. It usually appears as a carcinoma in the surface lining of the esophagus.

Common Types of Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer usually manifests as one of two types of cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of esophageal cancer because the esophagus itself is made of a number of squamous cells, which line the upper two-thirds of the esophagus. It is generally associated with the use of alcohol and tobacco.

The other common type of esophageal cancer is adenocarcinoma. This type of cancer impacts the glandular cells in the lower part of the esophagus. It’s generally affiliated with patients that suffer from Barrett’s stomach, a hardening of the lining resulting from chronic acid reflux.

Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

There are a number of symptoms of esophageal cancer than can be used to differentiate it from other conditions, including:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Hoarse cough
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Burning feeling

If a doctor suspects that their patient has esophageal cancer they should order one or more diagnostic tests. One option is a barium swallow in which a patient ingests barium and then takes an x-ray to examine the esophagus. Another option is an endoscopy, in which a tube is used to examine the walls of the esophagus. Once the cancer is diagnosed, a CT scan can be used to determine an estimate of the what stage the cancer is at.

Failure to Diagnose Esophageal Cancer Lawyers

If a doctor fails to properly diagnose an esophageal or stomach cancer, the consequences can be deadly. Even in cases where patients are able to make a recovery, they may have to suffer greater financial damages due to a prolonged recovery time and worsened health outcomes. 

Medical malpractice laws exist to help families get compensation for the loss of financial well-being or loss of life that they suffer due to a healthcare provider’s negligence. If you or a loved one have suffered because of a failure to diagnose esophageal cancer, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Only a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer can help you get the maximum compensation for the damages you and your family have suffered.

With over 30 years of personal injury law experience, McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt has the expertise to fully evaluate your legal case and get you the payout you deserve. To schedule a meeting for a free consultation, fill out our form or call us directly at 1-800-590-4116.