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Stomach cancer is the growth of cancerous cells in the stomach. It is also known as “gastric cancer.”
The earlier stomach cancer is caught, the better chance a person has of surviving. A person diagnosed with localized stomach cancer, in which the cancer is contained in a single primary site, faces a five-year survival rate of 64.1 percent. Survival chances drop to 28.8 percent once the stomach cancer spreads to the lymph nodes (regional cancer) and to 4.2 percent for distant (metastasized) cancer.
Unfortunately, a person’s delayed diagnosis of stomach cancer may be due to the negligence of a medical professional. If you suspect this has occurred to you or a loved one, you should take action right away to protect your rights.
Contact Powers & Santola, LLP. Our law firm can provide a free review of your case and help you to take steps to seek just compensation for your losses.
The wall of the stomach is made up of three layers of tissue:
- Mucosa (innermost)
- Muscularis (middle)
- Serosal (outermost).
Gastric cancer usually begins in the cells lining the mucosa layer and spreads through the outer layers as it grows. Cancer that has spread from the mucosa into deeper layers is more advanced, and a patient’s prognosis is not as good.
Stomach cancer can be classified as:
- Adenocarcinoma – Tumors of the mucosa, which make up more than 90 percent of stomach cancers
- Lymphoma – Cancer of the immune system, which is sometimes found in the stomach wall.
- Gastric stomal tumors – Tumors of the stomach wall
- Carcinoid tumors – Tumors of the hormone-producing cells of the stomach.
About 22,220 new cases of stomach cancer are diagnosed each year, making stomach cancer account for 1.3 percent of all cancers. About 28.3 percent of stomach cancer patients survive for five years or more.
Stomach Cancer Diagnosed?
- Stomach cancer is most often found after a patient reports symptoms to his or her doctor. At the early stage, this may include:
- Indigestion and stomach discomfort
- A bloated feeling after eating
- Mild nausea
- Loss of appetite
In more advanced stages of gastric cancer, the following symptoms may occur:
- Blood in the stool
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Stomach pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin)
- Ascites (build-up of fluid in the abdomen)
- Trouble swallowing.
After hearing about these symptoms, a doctor may refer the patient to a gastroenterologist. This is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the digestive tract. This physician will conduct an exam and may order such diagnostic tests as:
- Blood chemistry study – A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual amount of certain substances can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that produces it.
- Complete blood count (CBC) – A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for: The number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets; the amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells; and the portion of the sample made up of red blood cells.
- Barium swallow – This is a series of X-rays of the esophagus and stomach. The patient drinks a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound) and coats the esophagus and stomach before X-rays are taken.
- CT or CAT scan – This procedure produces a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an X-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly.
- Upper endoscopy – A procedure in which an endoscope (thin, lighted tube) is passed through the mouth and down the throat into the esophagus. This is used to look inside the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine) to check for abnormalities.
- Biopsy – The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer. A biopsy of the stomach is usually done during the endoscopy.
Why Does Missed or Delayed
Diagnosis of Stomach Cancer Occur?
In many cases, when stomach cancer is misdiagnosed, the error occurs because of miscommunication. Radiologists sometimes report results of tests incorrectly, or the physician reads them incorrectly. This could be caused by something such as a stray mark on a form or poor handwriting.
In some cases, biopsy samples, X-rays or MRI or CAT scan results become labeled incorrectly. They may be mixed up with the wrong patient’s name. If a report or lab sample becomes lost or corrupted, this will cause a need for the test or biopsy to be repeated and a delay in diagnosis.
In busy hospitals, the examining physician or physician’s assistant may fail to obtain a proper patient history or to ask about symptoms that, if known, would indicate the need for certain diagnostic tests. Sometimes, doctors under pressure to move patients quickly may cut corners by not ordering tests. The medical center’s policies and procedures may lead to these errors.
On rare occasions, a delayed or missed diagnosis is simply caused by a physician’s incompetence. A doctor may not have training that would enable him to diagnose stomach cancer. A doctor might also be negligent because of personal issues such as a substance abuse problem or emotional or psychological issues.
What Are the Consequences
of a Missed or Delayed Diagnosis
of Stomach Cancer?
When a diagnosis of stomach cancer is delayed, it can result in a patient having to undergo more painful, costly and – perhaps – fruitless treatments.
Stomach cancer is treated most often with surgery to remove malignant tumors and some surrounding tissue. According to how much the cancer has spread, more of the stomach must be removed. At some point, there is too much affected tissue for surgery to be viable.
Additional treatment options include radiation and chemotherapy, which are used to kill cancer cells. Radiation may be used after surgery to destroy cancer cells that could not be seen or removed during surgery. In cases where stomach cancer has spread, chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy may increase the chances of survival and reduce the risk of cancer returning.
Radiation and chemotherapy are harsh treatments that, even when ultimately successful, can have deleterious side effects on the patient. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may even increase a person’s risk of developing different types of cancer later in life.
Does Aspirin Prevent Cancer?
Did you know that taking aspirin could help to prevent colon (or colorectal) cancer?
At least, that is the view of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which recently recommended a daily aspirin for cancer prevention.
The task force’s recommendation is particularly important for certain segments of the population. To be sure, according to a recent study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, cancer has surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death among the country’s Hispanic population.
While experts continue to explore the reasons why cancer has such a profound impact on the Hispanic community, which makes up about 17 percent of the U.S. population, an article from WebMD News suggests that the lack of insurance for many Hispanic-Americans is one of the primary impediments to getting the high-quality care they need.
While the statistics about cancer-related deaths are extremely disconcerting, the recommendation from the task force suggests that members of the Hispanic community, as well as other Americans, may be able to reduce the risk of cancer with a daily dose of aspirin.
In particular, according to a report from Fox News, aspirin may be a significant key in reducing the rates of colon cancer in our country.
Dr. Marc Siegel, Associate Professor of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine and Medical Director of Doctor Radio at NYU, explained to Fox News the link between aspirin and colon cancer prevention.
Aspirin therapy, which has long been known to help prevent heart attacks, now may help reduce cancer, he said. The preventive dose is only a small amount, and it is important for patients to discuss an aspirin regimen with their doctors.
Making Aspirin Part of Your Cancer Prevention Regimen
According to Dr. Siegel, taking aspirin in recommended doses can reduce the risk of colon cancer by about 40 percent each year. This is because aspirin is an anti-inflammatory medicine.
However, the benefits of aspirin for cancer treatment vary drastically depending upon the age of the individual.
The following age groups should consider cancer aspirin treatment, according to the task force:
- Adults between the ages of 50-59 – A low-dose aspirin regimen is most effective for adults in this age group. Daily aspirin can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), but it can also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer among adults in this age group with a 10 percent or greater 10-year risk of CVD. At the same time, adults in this age group who use aspirin daily should not be at an increased risk for bleeding or have a life expectancy of fewer than 10 years. Using aspirin to prevent cancer also works best if you are on a low-dose daily regimen for at least 10 years.
- Adults between the ages of 60-69 – A daily dose of aspirin can also help to reduce the risk of CVD and colorectal cancer among adults in the 60-69 age group, but there are also increased risks. The task force emphasizes that the decision to begin a daily aspirin regimen should be “an individual one.” Just as with adults in the 50-59 age group, adults between the ages of 60-69 should consider aspirin for cancer treatment only if they have a greater than 10 percent 10-year risk of CVD, and if they have a life expectancy of at least 10 years.
Based on current studies, there is insufficient evidence to assess the value of a daily aspirin regimen for adults younger than 50 years old and for adults ages 70 and older. This is why the task force does not recommend beginning a cancer prevention aspirin regimen if you are in these age groups.
Daily Aspirin Regimen Benefits and Risks
Before you begin any aspirin regimen, you should understand the risks. Possible risks for daily use of aspirin include bleeding, particularly gastrointestinal bleeding.
Anyone with the following conditions should not begin taking aspirin on a daily basis:
- History of GI ulcers
- History of upper GI pain
- Bleeding disorders
- Renal failure
- Severe liver disease
In addition, any adult within the age groups for whom a daily aspirin therapy is recommended should not begin this regimen in conjunction with anticoagulation therapy, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use, or uncontrolled hypertension, according to the task force.
Aspirin Therapy to Prevent Other Forms of Cancer
According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the country each year, and it is the second leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women.
In 2014 alone, the American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 137,000 were diagnosed with colon cancer, while more than 50,000 died from the disease. In general, the average American’s lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 5 percent.
We know that a daily dose of aspirin may reduce the risk of developing colon cancer, but does it prevent other forms of cancer, too?
A recent article from WebMD News reported that an aspirin regimen also might help to reduce the risk of stomach and esophageal cancer. A study published in the Annals of Oncology suggested that taking aspirin on a daily basis can “reduce the risk of esophageal and stomach cancers by 30 percent and deaths from these cancers by 35 to 50 percent.”
Get Help from a Delayed Stomach
Cancer Diagnosis Attorney
Powers & Santola, LLP, can assist if you or a loved one has been harmed by what you believe was a delayed or missed diagnosis of stomach cancer. Our New York attorneys may be able to help you obtain compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering and more if medical providers in your case were negligent.
For a free and confidential consultation about your case and your legal options, contact us today by phone or through our online form.
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