WHAT IS A FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE STOMACH CANCER?

The failure to make a proper diagnose of stomach cancer and or the failure to make a timely diagnosis of stomach cancer are types of medical malpractice that, unfortunately, occur.  When a physician fails to make the diagnosis of stomach cancer, or fails to make the diagnosis in its early stages, it can result in serious injury to the patient, including death.  There are certain things a doctor should do, and certain clinical and medical information that a doctor should obtain, in order to properly diagnose and care for a patient who presents to a physician with certain abnormal signs and symptoms that are known to be consistent with stomach cancer.  These abnormal signs and symptoms are described below.

When a proper diagnosis is made and proper treatment is provided, a patient is much more likely to recover with fewer and or less serious complications.  The goal for any health care provider, including those evaluating a patient for possible stomach cancer, is to make a correct diagnosis and provide proper treatment.  When this occurs, it is much more likely that serious injury or death can be avoided.

WHAT IS STOMACH CANCER?

Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, occurs when cells in the stomach mutate and begin to divide and spread uncontrollably. Cancer cells crowd out healthy cells and injure the part of the body they are invading. Untreated cancer will eventually spread throughout the body and become fatal. Although there are several types of stomach cancer, the term stomach cancer is usually used to describe the most common type called adenocarcinoma.

The American Cancer Society estimates that over 20,000 cases of stomach cancer occur each year. A very significant percentage, probably more than half, of these individuals die as a result of this type of cancer.  Most victims of stomach cancer are over 70 years old, but a person of any age can develop stomach cancer.

Like most cancers, stomach cancer, when diagnosed, is categorized into a “stage.” The stages are defined by where the cancer is and how far it has invaded into the stomach tissue and or how far this type of cancer has spread. Observed survival rates drop sharply depending on when treatment begins. Survival rates are significantly higher for early stage cancers like IA, but the survival rates are much worse for more advanced stage stomach cancers, like Stage IV.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STOMACH CANCER

Although there are numerous signs and symptoms that suggest that an individual may have stomach cancer, this condition can sometimes be difficult to detect because many symptoms of stomach cancer can initially be attributed to other, less severe medical conditions, like GERD.  However, this does not mean that a physician is relieved of his or her duty to properly investigate whether or not this condition exists.

Stomach cancer symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Stomach discomfort or pain
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the stool
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Severe and persistent heartburn
  • Severe and persistent indigestion
  • Appetite loss

If a patient makes return visits for these types of complaints, the doctor should become increasingly concerned that a more serious medical condition, like stomach cancer, exists.  The investigation of these ongoing symptoms requires a more complete medical workup, including the possible referral to a gastroenterologist, a specialist.

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR STOMACH CANCER?

While there is no formula to show which individuals will develop stomach cancer, several factors have been identified which make it more likely for a person to develop stomach cancer. You can learn more by clicking here – Mayo Clinic. These risk factors include:

  • An infection from helicobacter pylori bacteria
  • Smoking
  • Family history of stomach cancer
  • Diet high in smoked, salted, or pickled foods
  • Diet low in fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Long-term stomach inflammation
  • Obesity

HOW IS STOMACH CANCER DIAGNOSED?

When a patient presents with stomach pain or symptoms which may suggest a stomach problem, a doctor should ask appropriate questions in order to determine the cause of the symptoms. The doctor should take steps to learn about a patient’s family history (which can increase the likelihood that the patient has a condition like stomach cancer), his or her personal medical history, and what his or her symptoms are.  The physician should also determine the length of time that the abnormal symptoms existed and complete a thorough physical exam.  The physical exam is a key part of the evaluation since this exam may show or suggest the presence of abdominal fluid, abdominal swelling and or abdominal pain — all consistent with the possibility that stomach cancer exists.

As part of the evaluation, a doctor may be required to order blood, lab, and other tests.  The results of these tests are part of the body of information that can lead to a more prompt diagnosis of stomach cancer.  Also, a physician may perform a procedure in which a specialized camera looks into the stomach. This procedure can allow the doctor to actually visualize the abnormal cancerous stomach tissue.  The doctor may also order imaging tests such as an x-ray, CT scan, or an ultrasound. These tests can also show the presence of stomach cancer.  If the doctor feels that something may be seriously wrong, the doctor may order exploratory surgery or a biopsy of suspicious tissue.

HOW TO TREAT STOMACH CANCER

Several options are available to treat stomach cancer. It can be treated through surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Most of the time, a patient will receive a combination of more than one type of treatment. The selected treatment will vary depending upon the advancement of the disease and the patient’s overall health.

Surgical options may vary depending upon the extent of the disease. Surgery may vary from a focused removing of tumors from stomach lining, removing part of the stomach, or entirely removing the stomach. You can learn more @ www.cancer.org.

WHY DO PHYSICIANS SOMETIMES COMMIT MALPRACTICE DUE TO A FAILURE TO PROPERLY OR TIMELY DIAGNOSE STOMACH CANCER?

Unfortunately, stomach cancer is often not found until the disease has had an opportunity to develop. While this sometimes happens despite competent medical care, there are other times that it is fair to bring a claim against a doctor for failing to diagnose stomach cancer in a timely way.  Such a failure may have an irreversible, adverse effect on a patient and his or her family since survival rates plummet as the disease progresses.  Some ways this failure may occur include:

  • Failure to determine a patient’s family history
  • Failure to ask about the patient’s symptoms
  • Failure to determine how long a patient has been suffering symptoms
  • Failure to recognize a patient’s symptoms
  • Failure to follow-up with a patient
  • Failure to order tests
  • Failure to communicate test results
  • Failure to refer to a specialist
  • Misdiagnosis as a less serious condition

ARE YOU THE VICTIM OF A FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE STOMACH CANCER?

Our firm has the background and experience to determine whether a failure to diagnose stomach cancer has occurred. Failure to diagnose cases present a complicated web of medical, legal, and factual issues. The evaluation and development of this type of claim requires a knowledgeable attorney and medical experts to investigate and prove your case.  The philosophy of our firm demands that we develop a personalized plan to uncover the truth and get you the best outcome possible. This approach includes a face to face meeting with the injured individual and family members to begin learning those facts that are necessary to evaluate and develop the case.  We will obtain medical records quickly, analyze them thoroughly, and work with experts to determine the extent to which the claim has merit.

If our thorough investigation supports that malpractice occurred, we will work zealously to a just financial recovery.

CONTACT RAY GUPTA FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

If you believe that you have suffered due to a failure to diagnose stomach cancer, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer. We help people and families throughout Illinois and Indiana. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation. Cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, which means that you owe us nothing unless your claim is successful and results in financial recovery.