Should My Endometrial Cancer Have Been Detected Earlier?

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Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in America. It affects more than 67,000 women every year. While endometrial cancer is highly treatable when caught in its early stages, it can become lethal if the disease is allowed to progress without proper treatment. 

What Is Endometrial Cancer?

Endometrial cancer involves the inner lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. While many women don’t experience any symptoms until they’ve reached an advanced stage, some possible symptoms of early-stage endometrial cancer include:

  • abnormal vaginal discharge
  • postmenopausal vaginal bleeding
  • irregular or unusually heavy bleeding in younger women
  • pain or pressure in the pelvis
  • pain during sex

Endometrial cancer can also cause other symptoms such as:

  • intense pain
  • weight loss
  • anemia

Because many of these symptoms are non-specific and can occur for myriad reasons, clinicians need to identify factors that may make a diagnosis of endometrial cancer more likely. Some of these risk factors include:

  • obesity
  • age over 55
  • diabetes
  • never giving birth
  • endometrial hyperplasia (an overgrowth of endometrial tissue)
  • certain medications, like tamoxifen
  • high blood pressure
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • family history of uterine, colon, or ovarian cancer
  • more years of menstruation (starting menstruation early and/or going through menopause late)
  • personal history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • difficulty getting pregnant in the past

While many factors put women at higher risk of developing endometrial cancer, some factors can decrease the odds of developing endometrial cancer, such as:

  • prior pregnancies
  • the use of birth control pills
  • the use of an intrauterine device (IUD)

How Is Endometrial Cancer Diagnosed?

While a Pap smear is often used to help diagnose cervical cancer, there is no comparable test to easily identify endometrial cancer. When endometrial cancer is suspected, the doctor will use their hands to probe the uterus for lumps or thickening. An ultrasound may be performed to get a better look. To get a definitive diagnosis, they must dilate the cervix, insert a tool into the uterus, and cut tissue from the uterine lining. A pathologist can then evaluate the biopsied tissue for signs of cancer.

Because the diagnostic process can be invasive, physicians sometimes wait to do it as a last resort when other potential conditions have been ruled out. While this means that women without uterine cancer may be spared the expense and pain of the test, it also means that women with endometrial cancer are often not diagnosed until their disease has progressed to a far less treatable stage due to the delay.

How Dangerous Is Endometrial Cancer?

When diagnosed in the earliest stage, before the cancer has spread beyond the uterus, around 95 percent of women can expect to survive for at least five years after their diagnosis. However, if the cancer is not identified early and is allowed to spread throughout the body, the five-year survival rate plummets to 18 percent. Because of this, it’s essential that patients are evaluated properly and concerns about their symptoms are taken seriously, particularly if they have multiple risk factors.

Once endometrial cancer has been diagnosed, the course of treatment will depend upon how far the disease has progressed. Possible treatment options include:

  • surgery to remove the uterus
  • radiation
  • hormone therapy
  • chemotherapy

What Happens When A Diagnosis Is Delayed?

Unfortunately, the symptoms of endometrial cancer often overlap with symptoms of numerous other conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, some STDs, Von Willebrand’s disease, and others. Unfortunately, some doctors test for all of these conditions before they even consider evaluating for endometrial cancer. Or, worse, it’s not unusual to hear of healthcare providers dismissing a patient’s initial concerns entirely until their symptoms have become significantly worse.

Doctors should evaluate and screen all symptomatic patients for endometrial cancer, particularly if they have multiple risk factors.

Sometimes, women with no risk factors and minor symptoms will remain undiagnosed until their cancer has spread. However, in patients who have one or more risk factors and present with classic symptoms of uterine cancer, further testing must be done. When healthcare providers ignore the proper standard of care and don’t perform the standard recommended diagnostic testing, they may have committed medical malpractice.

Choose Ross Feller Casey For Your Delayed Diagnosis Case 

Suppose you or a loved one was misdiagnosed, or an endometrial cancer diagnosis was delayed due to a doctor’s negligence. In that case, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

When it comes to medical malpractice, including cases of missed or delayed cancer diagnosis, the legal team at Ross Feller Casey has a record that speaks for itself. Our team of experienced attorneys and Ivy League-trained doctors has won more than $3 billion for our clients, including hundreds of multimillion-dollar recoveries.

We’re ready to put our experience to work for you. There’s no fee unless you win, and consultations are always free. So contact us today.

About the Author

Scott S. Berger, Jr. joined Ross Feller Casey in 2015 and concentrates his practice on representing catastrophically injured victims of medical malpractice and defective products.

Scott Berger

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