Uterine cancer is the abnormal (malignant) growth of any cells that comprise uterine tissue. The two main cancers of the uterus are uterine sarcomas (in the muscle layer or supporting connective tissue of the uterus) and endometrial carcinomas (in the cells of the inner lining of the uterus).
Early and accurate diagnosis of uterine cancer is critical to treating. Diagnosis is usually with this disease is usually made early, leading to a very high success rate. But sometimes doctors miss this disease because a physician incorrectly diagnosis the symptoms.
Uterine cancer misdiagnosis claims are often viable medical malpractice cases. If you live in the Baltimore-Washington area and believe you or a relative have been a victim of medical negligence in the diagnosis or treatment of uterine cancer in Maryland, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online medical malpractice consultation.Symptoms
Uterine cancer usually comes about when women have abnormal bleeding or bleeding after menopause. About 90% of women diagnosed with endometrial cancer have abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as a change in their periods or bleeding between periods or after menopause. Other symptoms include pelvis or back pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, bloating, weight loss, or irregular uterine bleeding. To diagnose the following test are usually used: ultrasound, endometrial biopsy and dilation and curettage (D&C).Treatment and Prevention
The main treatment for uterine cancer is surgery to remove the uterus. Other treatments include radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy. Although surgery is the main treatment used, under certain situations a combination of these treatments may be used. The choice of treatment depends mainly on the type of cancer and stage of the disease when it is found. Other factors could play a part in choosing the best treatment plan. These might include your age, your overall state of health, and whether you plan to have children.Uterine and Endometrial Cancer
There is confusion about the difference between uterine and endometrial cancer. They are used interchangeably. The vast majority of uterine cancers are endometrial cancer. Endometrial is a little more specific. It refers to cancer in the lining of the uterine lining. A less common type of uterine cancer is uterine sarcoma. There has been a lot of attention focused on uterine sarcoma recently because of concern that morcellators used during a hysterectomy can cause the spread of the disease.Uterine Cancer Verdicts and Settlements
- 2015, New York: $600,000 Settlement: A 35-year-old woman presented the defendant with complaints of abdominal pain. The defendant internist recommended a pelvic ultrasound and abdominal ultrasound which was performed by an outside company. The tested showed there was endometrial thickening, which could represent endometrial hyperplasia, inflammation or neoplastic involvement and An MRI for further evaluation was recommended by the outside company. The defendant claimed never received the pelvic ultrasound report from the radiology facility and was unaware of the radiologist's findings. The outside clinic established that it sent the report to the defendant. The plaintiff contended that the defendant internist was negligent for failing to follow-up for the results of the pelvic ultrasound that he ordered. The case settled for $600,000.
- 2014, Minnesota: $430,000 Settlement: A 60-year-old female went to the defendant physician with complaints of abnormal bleeding. The defendant reported that a pap smear came back atypical, and an ultrasound showed markedly abnormal endometrium, and recommended and then unsuccessfully attempted a hysteroscopy D&C. The defendant wrote a note about one month later regarding the need to contact the plaintiff’s regular physician which he failed to do. The plaintiff returned two years later with increased bleeding and was diagnosed with stage 3C cancer. The plaintiff asserts the delay in diagnosis of her endometrial cancer allowed cancer to potentially advance from stage one to stage three which decreased survivability. The parties agreed to a $430,000 mediated settlement.
- October 2013, California: $750,000 Verdict: A 68-year-old woman visited her gynecologist at the University of California in Sacramento after she began spotting. An endometrial biopsy came up as negative. After two months of consistent physician visits with no diagnosis, she sought out a second opinion from a gynecologist at U.C. Davis Medical Center. The physician conducted a dilation and curettage which led to a diagnosis of endometrial cancer. A hysterectomy alongside a removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries was conducted almost immediately. A year later she is diagnosed with metastatic cancer of the pelvis. She passed away within the year as a result of cancer. Her husband sued the medical center for negligent care and treatment of the decedent. Plaintiff alleged the physician who performed the hysterectomy failed to properly obtain informed consent before the procedure. Plaintiff’s counsel claimed that both gynecologists failed to timely diagnose the woman’s condition while the second OB-GYN failed to inform the decedent of the significant risk of the cancer spreading. Defendants claimed they all operated within the standard of care. A Sacramento County jury found the Defendants were negligent in treatment and awarded the Plaintiff $750,000.
- April 2013, Massachusetts: $1,750,000 Settlement: After she had undergone a dilation and curettage procedure to remove polyps, a 52-year-old woman had tissue samples sent to a pathologist. The pathologist determined the samples were benign; yet, the woman continued to experience heavy vaginal bleeding and required an additional dilatation and curettage six months later. This time, the tissue samples showed uterine cancer. The woman was diagnosed with terminal Stage III uterine sarcoma which had spread to her lungs. She sued the pathologist for failing to timely diagnose uterine cancer. Defendant denied negligence, claiming the cancer was rare and aggressive and had he made an earlier diagnosis, it would not have changed the Plaintiff’s prognosis. The parties agreed to settle for $1,750,000.
- August 2012, New York: $1,850,000 Settlement: A 45-year-old flight attendant had to undergo surgical removal of her uterus and ovaries after they were found to have a cancerous tissue. The oncologist who performed the surgery believed that the cancer had not progressed beyond the first stage and chemotherapy was not necessary. Two years pass, with regular examinations with her treating gynecologist, when she began experiencing overwhelming pain in her abdomen. A hospital test found she was suffering from stage IV metastatic cancer. She sued the oncologist and gynecologist for failing to eradicate her cancer. Plaintiff’s counsel claimed that chemotherapy should have immediately begun after the surgery, and the doctors should have performed regular tests that would have discovered any recurrence of cancer. Defendant oncologist contended that the chemotherapy was not necessary, and gynecological evaluations should have been properly conducted. Defendant gynecologist claimed the oncologist should have provided a more precise prescription of necessary treatment. The parties agreed to settle for $1,850,000; unfortunately, the woman had lost her battle with cancer during settlement negotiations.
- January 2012, Massachusetts: $820,000 Settlement: A woman had returned to her gynecologist only two months after an initial visit with concerns of vaginal staining. A vaginal ultrasound was conducted and read as the beginnings of a pre-polyp due to the onset of menopause. She returned the following year with concerns of more frequent vaginal bleeding. An ultrasound showed a 4 cm mass that was diagnosed as a large endometrial polyp. Although the radiology reports recommended the woman undergo a hysterectomy, the gynecologist advised her that it was more than likely a polyp and there was no need to do an immediate biopsy and scheduled the procedure two months after the appointment. A pathology report showed the woman was suffering from uterine cancer. Unfortunately, even after a series of radiation and chemotherapy treatment, the cancer has spread to her lungs and she died shortly thereafter. Her estate sued the gynecologist on her behalf, claiming the defendant failed to timely diagnose the uterine cancer. Defendant denied negligence, claiming that even if the cancer had been diagnosed earlier, it would not have changed the decedent’s prognosis. The parties agreed to settle for $820,000.
- January 2010, Virginia: $ 1,050,000 Settlement: A woman was informed by a pathologist that a recently removed uterine fibroid was benign. However, she continued to experience unusual bleeding and cramping for two years. She underwent a hysterectomy where another large fibroid was discovered. A second tissue sample was taken, and once again determined to be benign. A year passed before a CT scan revealed a lesion in her lung and spine, which led to a diagnosis of Stage III uterine cancer. She sued the two pathologists for failing to diagnose the cancer. Plaintiff claimed that had a timely diagnosis been made the cancer would not have spread and she would have had a higher chance for cure. The first pathologist argued that he had correctly interpreted the initial slides while the second pathologist argued that by the time the Plaintiff received the hysterectomy, the cancer had already spread outside the uterus. The parties agreed to settle for $ 1,050,000.
There are not many of these verdicts. We have included only the plaintiffs verdicts so please do not walk away thinking that every one of these cases ends with a plaintiffs' victory. There is no doubt that you can learn something learning about these verdicts. But someone else's success really has nothing to do with your own case. Every case is different and the quality of your case is very dependent on a variety of factors that cannot be fully explored by looking at average verdict statistics or jury verdicts even in similar cases.
Uterine cancer and endometrial cancer are initially identified with a transvaginal ultrasound. If suspicious lesions are found on the ultrasound the next step is to perform a hysteroscopy. This process enables the doctor to see inside the uterus with a tiny camera and take tissue samples of suspicious masses. Tissue biopsies are then sent out for final confirmation of a cancer diagnosis.
Yes. Uterine cancer tumors can be visible on a transvaginal ultrasound. However, just as with any medical imaging tool the ultrasound results are imperfect and reliant on subjective interpretation by the doctor. According to an ACOG study, ultrasound fails to diagnose uterine cancer in about 1 in 239 cases.
As long as uterine cancer is diagnosed early in its progression, it is a very treatable form of cancer. Treatment typically involves surgery combined with chemotherapy. When uterine cancer goes undiagnosed for a prolonged period of time it can spread to other parts of the body and become far less treatable.
Medical malpractice cases involving failure to diagnose uterine cancer are not particularly difficult to prove compared to other types of cancer misdiagnosis claims. Uterine cancer misdiagnosis cases typically involve missing the tumor on the ultrasound or failure to order additional diagnostic testing.
If you live Maryland or Washington, D.C. and believe you or a loved one have been a victim of medical negligence, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online medical malpractice consultation.More Information