Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Doctors Told Patient Her Cancer Was Just A Cold

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Oct 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

Symptoms of a common cold can include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, or congestion. This can be annoying and frustrating; however, it generally goes away after a few days or weeks of rest. Unfortunately, some of the same symptoms of a cold can indicate other, more serious problems. In some cases, a doctor can misdiagnose cancer as a common cold.

Heather Longdon was suffering from a persistent cough and sore throat. These can be signs of a cold but after waiting in vain for her symptoms to get better, Langdon eventually went to her doctor. Unfortunately, her doctor told her she was simply suffering from a common cold and sent her home.

Ms. Langdon saw no improvements in the following weeks, and after almost 6 months of worsening symptoms, she went back to the doctor. This time, doctors diagnosed her with stage-three laryngeal cancer.

Laryngeal cancer affects the tissues of the larynx. Symptoms of this type of cancer can include a sore throat or a cough that does not go away, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness in the voice, and ear pain. The prognosis depends on the stage of the cancer, the location and size of the tumor, and grade of the tumor.

After seven weeks of treatment, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy, doctors told Ms. Langdon she was cancer free. However, just a few months later she returned with complaints of pain. Doctors told her that her pain was simply a side effect of her treatment. Ms. Langdon knew better and demanded a biopsy. After tests, doctors learned that they were wrong, and the cancer had returned. a swollen throat.

Doctors performed a laryngectomy to remove her voice box. She was expected to stay in the hospital for a week and a half; however, an infection caused her to stay bedridden in the hospital for over seven weeks. Infections caused her throat to swell up and required two additional operations.

Ms. Langdon is unable to speak and communicates via her computer. “It's the scariest thing ever to happen,” said Langdon. “It makes you see life a lot differently. I'm just so thankful to still be here to watch my son grow and make plenty of memories. If I could get to somewhere that I could get a better voice box that would mean the world to me. To be able to tell my son I love him, just little things like that, it means so little to some people as they have a voice.”

“We'll never know what would have happened if the cancer had been discovered earlier,” said her friend Chantelle White, who set up a fundraising page for treatment costs. “It could have been so different.”

If you or a loved one was injured because of a medical mistake or misdiagnosis, the Gilman & Bedigian team is here to help. We are fully equipped to handle the complex process of your medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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