THE family of a man who died of oesophageal cancer three months after being told he was having difficulty swallowing due to anxiety is urging doctors to properly consider testing for the disease in younger people.
Father-of-two Ryan Greenan first visited his GP after experiencing trouble while eating or drinking in September, but was told the issue was probably caused by reflux.
However doctors later found a previously undetected tumour in his throat had spread to his lungs and liver after the 35-year-old carer collapsed while at work in December.
Ryan, originally from Wester Hailes, got engaged to fiancee Natasha Robertson, 35, earlier that month, but passed away just three weeks after his diagnosis.
The condition is far more common in those aged 60 and over, but Ryan’s sister Kerry, 33, is now calling on doctors to thoroughly test for the illness, even in younger patients.
She said: “When Ryan first went to the doctor, he was told it was anxiety and that he was too young gfor it to be cancer because he was only 35.”
“He just took that as his diagnosis and didn’t go back because the general advice was that oesophageal cancer only really affected older people.
“But it got to the point where he couldn’t even swallow water, he was barely eating or drinking anything.”
Kerry continued: “One day he collapsed and he was in hospital, we were told it was just to see what the symptoms were and the next day, we were being told it was cancer and there was nothing they could do because it had spread.”
According to figures released by charity Cancer Research UK, the condition is the 14th most common form of cancer across the country, with around 9,000 people diagnosed each year.
Five-year survival rates for the condition currently lie below the European average in Scotland, but are higher in England and Wales.
Kerry said Ryan received a blood transfusion shortly after the cancer was found to have spread, but the treatment proved ineffective.
Ryan’s health deteriorated rapidly and he dropped from 12 to ten stone in the space of two weeks.
A JustGiving page set up prior to his death raised almost £800 to help with the cost of his funeral, while additional money was put towards his daughters, aged 11 and eight.
But Kerry admitted the family was “heartbroken” over the way Ryan’s illness was diagnosed and urged anyone experiencing similar symptoms to seek medical advice immediately.
She said:“If it had been picked up earlier, they could have operated, they could have given him chemotherapy, but after three months it had spread, there was nothing else they could do at that point.
“I’m just absolutely destroyed. I’m so angry. If they had caught it earlier, my big brother would still be here today.”
Kerry added: “For anyone who has concerns about their health, I would say don’t take it lightly, go and get yourself checked out and if you are not happy with what you have been told, go and get a second opinion.”