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Nearly 180,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. Early diagnosis of breast cancer dramatically increases the likelihood of a cure. Every woman should be aware of her risk for developing breast cancer, and of widely available methods of breast cancer screening and early detection.
Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is often first suspected when a lump is felt or when a mammogram shows an abnormality. Most of the time, these suspicious areas do not turn out to be cancer, but follow-up testing is needed. In some cases, cancer can be ruled out with additional mammograms or other imaging techniques, but a biopsy may be necessary. A needle biopsy involves the removal of tissue or cell samples from the breast with a needle. A surgical biopsy involves the removal of tissue samples from the breast with a surgical incision.
If a biopsy finds cancer, additional tests will be performed on the tissue that was removed and the lymph nodes will be sampled. These tests help determine a woman’s chances for recovery. Two major factors in determining a woman’s prognosis will be the size of the tumor or lesion when it was diagnosed, and whether it has metastasized or spread to the lymph nodes. Delay in diagnosing breast cancer means a greatly increased risk that the tumor will be larger and that the cancer will have metastasized to other areas of the body. This significantly increases the risk of premature death, and typically requires aggressive and potentially harmful treatments including radiation and chemotherapy, and invasive, disfiguring surgery.
Medical Mistakes Can Delay Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Here are some common medical mistakes and errors that can cause a preventable delay in diagnosing breast cancer:
- Improper reading or reporting of mammograms
- Failure to recommend routine mammogram screening
- Failure to order mammogram for women at increased risk
- Failure to perform breast examination
- Failure to adequately investigate suspicious findings
- Failure to refer to a surgeon when indicated
- Failure to properly follow up on mammogram findings
- Failure to coordinate or communicate with other medical care providers
Injuries Caused by the Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer
Types of harm caused by delayed damage of breast cancer can include:
- Severe physical pain
- Premature death
- Loss of breast and lymph nodes, or other organs
- Scaring and disfigurement
- Treatment which is significantly more expensive
- Inoperable cancer
- Lost wages
- Treatment which is more invasive, aggressive, and painful
- Significantly increased recovery time
- Long-term or permanent disability
How We Can Help
There is no amount of money can make up for a woman’s unnecessary or preventable death, or for the additional pain of knowing that early death would probably have been avoided had health care professionals acted appropriately. However, a woman’s premature death creates a financial burden on her family, and the responsible party should bear that cost. In addition, delayed treatment of breast cancer creates additional health care costs, lost wages, and in some cases permanent disability.
If you or a loved one has been injured or lost their life due to what you suspect may have been a failure to diagnose breast cancer, you may be entitled to compensation including:
- Burial expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Current and future medical bills
- Long-term care expenses
- Current and future loss of wages
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Long-term disability
Learn more about frequently asked questions related to breast cancer misdiagnosis.
Breast Cancer misdiagnosis attorneys Michael L. Weiss, Esq. and Robert E. Paarz, Esq. have presented over 30 medical malpractice cases relating to failure to diagnose breast cancer to juries and have helped many families achieve substantial financial recoveries. Our attorneys are committed to using their knowledge and experience to help anyone who has suffered a severe, permanent injury or death due to medical malpractice to obtain compensation. If you believe you or a loved one may have experienced such an injury, please contact Weiss & Paarz, P.C ., today.