Misdiagnosed Colon Cancer Leads to Illinois Woman’s Death – $2.05 Million Settlement Reached in Estate of Cyborski v. Advocate South Suburban Hospital

Medicine is a healing profession; as patients we look to our physicians to cure our ailments and relieve our pain. However, in order to heal us, doctors must first diagnose the problem – a quick and speedy diagnosis is often the key to a successful recovery. Likewise, when there is an unnecessary delay in diagnosis, oftentimes the outcome is not very favorable for the patient.

Take for instance the case of 76 year-old Shirley Cyborski, who died as a result of the failure to diagnose her colon cancer for over a year. The medical lawsuit resulting out of this misdiagnosis of cancer, Estate of Shirley Cyborski v. Advocate Health and Hospitals Corp., et al, No. 08 L 6447, was recently settled for $2.05 million.

In 2006, Shirley presented to Advocate South Suburban Hospital for a barium enema examination. This exam is typically performed when a patient experiences a change in bowel habits, has abdominal pain or rectal bleeding, or if there is a suspicion that the patient has diverticulitis or polyps. An x-ray of Shirley’s colon was taken at the time of the barium enema exam, which showed a mass in her colon. However, the colon mass was not reported and therefore her cancer went undiagnosed.

It was not until a year later that her colon cancer was finally diagnosed. Shirley returned to the hospital for a colonoscopy, which revealed the colon mass; a biopsy confirmed it was cancer. However, by the time the cancer was diagnosed it had already metastasized to Shirley’s liver, a fact that significantly decreased her chance of recovery.

During the year her cancer went undiagnosed, Shirley missed out on treatment and therapy that could have saved her life. When cancer is localized it is much easier to focus chemotherapy and radiation to the one area and control the cancer’s growth. However, when the cancer has metastasized, or spread, to other areas of the body, it is much more difficult to control its growth and achieve a successful recovery. This is in fact what happened with Shirley; doctors were unable to overcome her cancer’s growth and she died as a result.

The resulting Cook County medical malpractice lawsuit focused on this delay in diagnosis and its effect on Shirely’s ultimate outcome. Presumably, if Cyborski had gone to trial, the decedent’s attorneys would have brought medical experts to testify to the increased chance of survival had the colon cancer been diagnosed earlier. However, the attorneys did not have a chance to test out their theory of liability on a Cook County jury; Cyborski was settled for $2.05 million before the trial could take place.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Cook County misdiagnosed cancer cases for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Lindenhurst, Chicago’s Lakeview, Orland Park, Hoffman Estates, Vernon Hills, and Niles.

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