February 17, 2021

A West Virginia medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit alleges that a 41-year-old West Virginia man who had been recently diagnosed with rectal cancer was improperly treated with a chemotherapy drug that is known to worsen patients’ preexisting heart disease, causing his death. The pathologist who conducted the autopsy stated that he “could not rule out [the death] as having been precipitated by the chemotherapy regimen prescribed by the defendants.”

XELODA (capecitabine) is a nucleoside metabolic inhibitor with antineoplastic activity indicated for adjuvant colon cancer, metastatic  colorectal cancer, and metastatic breast cancer. Under prescribing WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS it is stated: “Patients receiving therapy with XELODA should be monitored by a physician experienced in the use of cancer chemotherapeutic agents. Most adverse reactions are reversible and do not need to result in discontinuation, although doses may need to be withheld or reduced … The cardiotoxicity observed with XELODA includes myocardial infarction/ischemia, angina, dysrhythmias, cardiac arrest, cardiac failure, sudden death, electrocardiographic changes, and cardiomyopathy. These adverse reactions may be more common in patients with a prior history of coronary artery disease.”


The West Virginia man died on March 30, 2019, which is the same month he began chemotherapy with XELODA. The records of the doctor and nurse practitioner at the defendant Shenandoah Oncology did not mention that the man had heart disease.

On March 26, 2019, five days after the man began taking XELODA, he experienced chest pain and was evaluated at a local hospital where no evidence of acute heart disease or injury was documented. Despite continuing problems with chest pain along with neck pain, shoulder pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness, he was discharged to home on the same day.

The West Virginia medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the man advised the defendants about his symptoms on March 29, 2019, but “Despite his specific and stated concerns that the Xeloda was causing radiating chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness, their conclusion was that those symptoms were not likely cardiac in origin and that it was more likely he was experiencing mucositis (a stomach inflammation) as a result of his chemotherapy.”

The man continued to take XELODA and was found unconscious by his wife the next day. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants breached the standard of care by not discontinuing XELODA and that the man’s “readily identifiable cardiac condition went untreated,” which resulted in his death.

The man is survived by his wife and three daughters.


If you or a loved one have suffered serious harm as a result of medical negligence in West Virginia or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a West Virginia medical malpractice attorney, or a medical malpractice attorney in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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