Oesophageal cancer is a cancer found anywhere in the oesophagus which is more commonly known as the food pipe. This is a muscular tube that connects from the mouth to the stomach.  This type of cancer is more typically associated with people over the age of 60, affecting more men than women and approximately 500 people in Ireland are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer each year.  The typical indications of oesophageal cancer can often include common symptoms, such as heartburn, acid indigestion, frequent hiccups and difficulty swallowing.  These as we know are quite common digestive symptoms that can frequently be experienced by many people from time to time.  Weight loss and in particular, muscle loss is also a common symptom of this particular cancer as oesophageal cancer causes changes in the metabolism and also can cause difficulty with swallowing and reflux.  People with Barrett’s Oesophagus should normally be screened regularly by carrying out an endoscopy, which is a tube and camera which is inserted down the patient’s throat into the oesophagus, as this condition can lead to a type of oesophageal cancer called adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus.

A patient presenting at their GP surgery with some, or all, of the symptoms mentioned should be referred to an appropriate consultant such as a gastroenterologist.

One of the key tools used by doctors to assist in the diagnosis of oesophageal cancer is the endoscopy, which is a minimally invasive diagnostic procedure used to assess the inside surfaces of the person’s oesophagus.  This is completed using a rigid or flexible tube which has a built-in fibre-optic camera, which provides an image for visual inspection and biopsy.  Along with the endoscopy, there are a number of other investigative tools that the gastroenterologist can use.  For example, the barium swallow test can be deployed, which is a chalky liquid which is taken orally and coats the walls of the oesophagus and then x-rays are taken and the barium outlines the oesophagus, which can show any abnormal areas in the normally smooth inner surface lining of the oesophagus.  This test can show very small, early oesophageal cancer, provided of course that it is not negligently misread.  In addition, a CT scan can be carried out which essentially shows a slice of the oesophagus and is very useful in telling whether the cancer has spread into nearby organs and lymph nodes.  MRI scan can also be used to show detailed images of the soft tissues and which can be useful to look for possible spread to the brain and spinal cord.  Also, a PET scan, often combined with a CT scan, can be useful in diagnosing oesophageal cancer.

Usually, if a suspicious growth is found on endoscopy, or after an imaging test, it is usually biopsied, which is the removal of a small piece of the suspect tissue with a cutting instrument.  Various testing can be carried out, such as HER2 testing, PD-L1 testing, and MMR and MSI testing.  Finally, blood tests can be also carried out, including liver enzymes to check for the liver function, as often oesophageal cancer can spread to the liver.

For a successful medical negligence claim it would be required to show that the delay in diagnosing oesophageal cancer caused the disease to progress and spread where it otherwise may not have.  The usual failures we would know of can include a failure to take a complete and accurate history with the person, either by the GP and/or the gastroenterologist, a failure by the GP to refer to an appropriate specialist, and also an error in interpreting the various investigations and tests, which in turn lead to a delay in the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of the cancer.

Our oesophageal cancer misdiagnosis solicitors

If you or a loved one have suffered harm because of negligent delay or misdiagnosis of oesophageal cancer, then you may be able to make a claim for compensation. It is important you seek advice as soon as possible to protect your legal rights. We believe in putting you our client first and we are committed to achieving the best result possible while all the time remaining sensitive to your needs. Please feel free to reach out to us below and will be pleased to discuss your case and offer no obligation advice.

To contact one of our cancer misdiagnosis claims solicitors please call 0818 888 555 or WhatsApp/call 087 398 7386 or complete our online enquiry form

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