Last Updated on May 20, 2024

Can I Sue If I've Been Diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer Late?

Patients whose esophageal cancer was diagnosed late may pursue further legal action against at-fault doctors, most especially if severe damages have resulted from said late diagnosis. Late cancer diagnosis can stem from medical errors committed by negligent medical providers/facilities. 

Through proper and thorough investigation, medical malpractice claims may be validated. Such claims allow wronged patients to get compensated – in turn, ensuring that they get all the medical attention that they need.

About 22,370 new cases of esophageal cancer are expected in the US in 2024. This disease is about 2.5 times more likely to occur in men than in women.

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What Can Be Mistaken for Esophageal Cancer?

Negligent doctors might attribute esophageal cancer symptoms to other less severe conditions such as:

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)This can cause trouble swallowing, chest pain, hoarseness, chronic cough, and vomiting.
Eosinophilic EsophagitisAn inflammatory condition that can cause trouble swallowing, chest pain, and vomiting.
Esophageal StrictureNarrowing of the esophagus can lead to difficulty swallowing and unintentional weight loss.
Esophageal UlcersOpen sores in the esophagus can cause pain, difficulty swallowing, and bleeding, which may result in black stools and anemia.
Peptic UlcersSores in the stomach or duodenum can cause vomiting, weight loss, and black stools if they bleed.

Most incidents of esophageal cancer only show symptoms when the disease has entered its later stages. Like most other cancers, symptoms of esophageal cancer are typically ambiguous and may be attributed to other less severe medical conditions. Some of the earliest symptoms of esophageal cancer include:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Hoarseness
  • Chronic cough
  • Vomiting
  • Bone pain 
  • Black stools caused by esophageal bleeding into the esophagus
  • Anemia from blood loss
  • Fatigue

Attending physicians must prescribe timely screening tests to confirm whether or not their patients have esophageal cancer. Failure to do so also constitutes medical malpractice.  This is especially important since symptoms only present themselves in later stages. Prompt detection allows immediate medical intervention, effectively bettering the chances of beating the disease.

Establishing a Medical Malpractice Claim

According to a recent study, most cancer misdiagnosis stems from errors committed by primary care doctors. The most common errors found are:

  • Misinterpretation of symptoms
  • Misinterpretation of test results
  • Failure to order necessary screening tests
  • Failure to provide referrals for specialists

While these errors are clear grounds for a medical malpractice claim, it must be acknowledged that some personal factors also come into play during said delays. As such, medical malpractice experts work in tandem with credible medical consultants to solidify and establish your claim. The first goal of your legal team is to pinpoint the following key elements:

Duty of Care – Was there an appropriate doctor-patient relationship?
Breach of Duty – Did your doctor perform poorly/negligently based on accepted standards of care?
Causation – Did your doctor’s actions/inactions directly cause you harm?
Damages – What did these errors cost you?

Should your legal team feel confident about your claim after the initial investigation, your lawyer will proceed and formally file your case.

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Esophageal Cancer Survival Rates

The odds of beating esophageal cancer are relatively slim compared to other types of cancer. Considering all its stages, esophageal cancer has a 5-year relative survival rate of 22%. As for the per-stage survival rates, they are as follows:

STAGE5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Localized (Stage 1 or 2)49%
Regional (Stage 3)28%
Distant (Stage 4)6%

Given these rates, every passing moment without proper diagnosis further jeopardizes the well-being of affected patients. Negligent doctors that cause their patients harm should always be held liable.

Treatment and Compensation for Medical Expenses

Prescribed treatments for esophageal cancer vary depending on the stage of the disease. Naturally, more advanced cases would require stronger and complementing treatments. Conventionally speaking, treatments for esophageal cancer include:

Through various treatments that may be prescribed, medical bills can quickly pile up. On a nationwide level, US cancer patients have spent upwards of $200 billion annually since 2020.

On the other hand, when estimating annual per-patient spending, the National Cancer Institute considers three distinct phases – initial care, continuing care, and end-of-life care.  Esophageal cancer is notably one of the more expensive cancers to treat. Here are the average annual per-patient costs for treating esophageal cancer:

Medical ServicesPrescription Drugs
Initial Care (1st year after diagnosis)$89,947$1,562
Continuing Care (time in between)$9,786
per year
per year
End-of-Life Care (last year before passing away)$120,034$937.0

All medical expenses (past and future) are considered in a medical malpractice claim. Apart from medical expenses, other economic and non-economic losses are also factored in. Lost income, emotional trauma, and decreased quality of life are some of the more common considerations. For actual compensation figures, please refer to our previous wins.

Speak to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

At the Porter Law Group, our team of proven medical malpractice lawyers delivers ideal results. We take pride in helping families rebuild after unfavorable circumstances.  We operate on a contingency basis – meaning you do not need to pay us anything unless we win your case. Through this approach, we can better support families during their times of need.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, please reach out to us for a non-obligatory free case evaluation. You can also contact us at 833-PORTER9 or to schedule a consultation.

Written By
Michael S. Porter
Personal Injury Attorney
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike built a distinguished legal career after graduating from Harvard University and earning his juris doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law. He served as a Captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, gaining expertise in trial work, and is now a respected trial attorney known for securing multiple million-dollar results for his clients while actively participating in legal organizations across Upstate NY.
Legally Reviewed on May 20, 2024
Eric C. Nordby
Personal Injury Attorney
Eric, with nearly three decades of experience in personal injury litigation, holds a law degree with honors from the University at Buffalo School of Law and a Bachelor's Degree from Cornell University. His extensive career encompasses diverse state and federal cases, resulting in substantial client recoveries, and he actively engages in legal associations while frequently lecturing on legal topics.
This Article Was Professionally Reviewed
This page was Legally Reviewed by Eric C. Nordby on May 20, 2024. Our experts verify everything you read to make sure it's up to date. For information on our content creation and review process read our editorial guidelines. If you notice an error or have any questions about our content please contact us.
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