Esophagus Cancer - Medical Malpractice Lawyers
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Thousands of Canadian citizens are diagnosed with esophageal cancer every year however only a minority are diagnosed early enough to affect a cure. The key to survival is early diagnosis and treatment which is often delayed due to misdiagnosis or misinterpreted test results. Esophageal cancer misdiagnosis is extremely common and failure by a healthcare practitioner that amounts to negligence is a matter of medical malpractice and entitles the victim to claim financial recompense for pain and suffering or the loss of opportunity for a cure. Our specialist medical malpractice lawyers deal with esophageal cancer clinical negligence cases against doctors, nurses, technicians and other healthcare providers working in medical practices, clinics, hospitals and all other places where health care is dispensed. If you would like advice about esophagus cancer misdiagnosis just contact our offices and an esophagus cancer medical malpractice lawyer with call to discuss your potential compensation claim without charge and without further obligation. Our medical malpractice lawyers will give you their opinion on the liability of the negligent healthcare provider and will estimate the amount of the likely award of damages there and then.
Esophagus Cancer Misdiagnosis Facts
Cancer of the esophagus is also called esophageal cancer. Approximately 1600 patients in Canada come down with esophageal cancer each year. More than 1300 of these individuals are men. Almost all of these individuals will die from the disease with only about 200 surviving. This makes esophageal cancer the seventh most common cause of cancer deaths among men. Only about 17 percent of individuals are alive after having esophageal cancer for five years. The risk of dying from esophageal cancer is highest in those with metastatic cancer or far advanced cancer.
Esophageal cancer occurs when cells of the lining of the esophagus undergo a change in DNA so the cell becomes cancerous and grows out of control. The cancer usually develops in the lower part of the esophagus, where the acid is most likely to erode away at the esophageal lining and where more cancerous changes are occurring.
In Canada, the rate of esophageal cancer is less than in other countries. Most people with esophageal cancer are men who are more than 50 years of age. There are two types of esophageal cancer: adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. They behave relatively the same but look different under the microscope and begin in different parts of the esophagus. Squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus is linked to male gender, smoking history and alcohol consumption. Barrett’s esophagus is a disease considered to be a precancerous change in the esophagus. It comes from excessive gastroesophageal reflux or GERD. This causes heartburn and changes in the cells of the esophagus that predispose them to cancerous changes.
Risk factors for adenocarcinoma include being male and being obese. Men who smoke have a higher than average risk for adenocarcinoma as well.
The major symptoms of esophageal carcinoma include regurgitation of food or reflux of food up into the mouth or the back of the throat. There is often chest pain that is unrelated to eating. Difficulty in swallowing solids or liquids is possible as is heartburn and the vomiting of bloody material.
Doctors do a barium swallow in order to detect esophageal cancer. It can show narrowing at the site of the cancer. A chest CT or chest MRI examination can also show the cancer, including the stage of the cancer. Doctors often do endoscopy which will reveal the cancer. The endoscopic examination can also do a biopsy of the suspicious tissue and can be diagnostic of esophageal cancer. Cells from the flexible scope are taken from a biopsy device so that it can be looked at under the microscope. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a Barrett’s esophagus and an esophageal cancer. An endoscopic ultrasound can help stage the disease. In some cases, a PET scan can be done in order to stage the disease and determine where the most cellular activity is happening in the disease.
Treatment involves removing the esophagus in its entirety or removing a portion of the esophagus. This is best done when the cancer has not moved beyond the border of the esophagus. For more advanced cancer, radiation is done to de-bulk the cancer, either as a palliative measure or as something to do before doing surgery on the affected area. Chemotherapy can be used along with radiation in order to give the person the best chance of survival. Endoscopic dilatation of the esophagus is done in order to dilate the esophagus so that the patient can continue to eat.
Esophageal Cancer Overview
occurs in the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. There are symptoms and risk factors for esophagus cancer that should be recognized by a competent doctor. When a doctor fails to identify a patient with a high risk factor or fails to recognize the symptoms or does not properly screen and examine the patient then he may be guilty of medical malpractice. Symptoms that should be taken seriously and investigated may include :-
- difficult or painful swallowing
- severe weight loss
- pain in the throat or back, behind the breastbone or between the shoulder blades
- hoarseness or chronic cough
- coughing up blood
Esophagus Cancer Diagnosis
Diagnosis of esophageal cancer usually follows consideration of the patients medical history and after physical examination which may include the following tests :-
Barium swallow is a series of x-rays taken after the patient drinks a liquid containing barium which is radio opaque.
Esophagoscopy is an examination using a thin lighted tube called an endoscope which also facilitates collection of cells and tissue for examination under a microscope.
The exact causes of esophagus cancer are not known however there are recognised factors that can increase the risk of developing esophagus cancer :-
- esophageal cancer is more likely to occur in people over the age of 60
- it is more common in men than in women
- smoking cigarettes is a major risk factor
- chronic or heavy use of alcohol is a major risk factor
- long-term irritation of the esophagus can increase the risk
- patients who have had other head and neck cancers have increased risk
Tobacco & Alcohol
Esophagus cancer is particularly serious because it can be well established before it is detected. It is most common in men over the age of 60 and is often, though not necessarily, associated with tobacco smoking and heavy drinking. People who suffer from hiatus hernia or who have worked with metal dust including pipe fitters, plumbers, welders and sheet metal workers are at increased risk of contracting esophageal cancer.
Clinical advances have resulted in the possibility to prevent, treat or cure many types of esophagus cancer and even if a cure is not possible then the quality of life can be dramatically improved. The key to successful treatment is usually early diagnosis and if a health care professional has failed through their negligence to diagnose the illness in a timely manner then compensation may be payable for the worsening of the illness. Early diagnosis can mean less pain, less suffering, less financial hardship and a greater chance of survival.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Our personal injury lawyers use contingency fee arrangements to represent their clients in medical malpractice compensation claims, which means that if you don't receive a settlement then they don't get paid. If your condition resulted from medical malpractice, our esophagus cancer lawyers can help you assert your rights to get the compensation that you need and deserve. If you believe that you have been the victim of medical malpractice just call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices and following review of your information a specialist medical malpractice lawyer will telephone you immediately to discuss your claim at no cost to you and with no obligation.
LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here