One of the most common forms of cancer affects the esophagus. As the sixth-most common cancer worldwide, esophageal cancer is readily seen in Illinois. Despite its prevalence, some medical professionals may miss its signs, leading to complications when the cancer becomes more advanced.
What is the esophagus?
The esophagus is a long tube that runs from the back of the throat to the top of the stomach. Essentially, it is the initial part of the digestive tract, as it helps move food into the stomach. Esophageal cancer is more common in men than women and is often associated with alcohol or tobacco use, poor nutrition, and obesity. In its earliest stages, esophageal cancer often doesn’t have any signs or symptoms, sometimes making it difficult to prove a case of medical malpractice.
Signs and risk factors
Common signs of esophageal cancer include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain, burning or pressure in the chest
- Unexplained weight loss
- Heartburn or indigestion that gets worse
- Coughing or hoarseness
Having Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition caused by acid reflux, makes people at high risk for developing cancer. Other risk factors include gastroesophageal reflux disease , bile reflux, difficulty swallowing because of an esophageal sphincter that won’t relax, undergoing radiation to the chest or upper abdomen, a steady habit of drinking very hot liquids or not eating fruits and vegetables.
When does a missed diagnosis become questionable?
Proving a medical malpractice claim in esophageal cancer cases takes time and effort. Patients may have a case if their cancer becomes so far advanced that they have difficulty eating, and the cancer has spread to other nearby organs. Screenings are particularly useful for people who have Barrett’s esophagus and other risky conditions that can lead to esophageal cancer.
If you or a loved one have developed esophageal cancer and your doctor ignored your symptoms or didn’t order the proper screenings for risk factors, you could have a possible medical malpractice case. Working with legal professionals experienced in this area of the law may lead you to obtain compensation for the losses that you have sustained.