Was the Late or Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer Preventable?

Date: May 24, 2013
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Late or Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer is Often Due to Medical MistakesBreast cancer survivors look to hope, strength, and faith

480,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year if current statistics hold true. In most instances breast cancer cannot be prevented, but prompt diagnosis and treatment is proven to save lives. When breast cancer is diagnosed and treated before it has spread to distant organs, research has shown that modern treatments are effective, and each year many more women are achieving a five year survival, which is thought by many to be the equivalent of a “cure.”

Late diagnosis of breast cancer is often the result of preventable medical negligence. A mistake or miscommunication by the radiologist reading a mammogram, or breast ultrasound can cause delays in diagnosis of a year or more. Similarly, the failure on the part of a gynecologist or family practice doctor to order biopsy of a persistent solid and palpable breast lump is, in most cases negligent, and frequently the cause of delay in diagnosis at a time when delay is something their patients cannot afford.

Like other cancers, breast cancer grows by cell division. Many experts suggest that breast cancer is relatively slow growing, doubling at rates which vary, but in the area of every 150-180 days. The cells are extremely small, which means that by the time a breast tumor reaches the size where it can be detected by physical exam, it has been present for several years, and contains in the area of one billion cells. This means that in approximately 5 to 6 months from the time of first detection, the number of cells will have doubled. With each new cell, the chance of distant metastasis increases.

Today, screening and diagnostic mammograms often can detect breast masses and other irregularities long before they can be felt, or “palpated” during regular breast exams by a woman or her physician. Follow up, and biopsy of these irregularities make early detection the expected goal, rather than a matter of luck.

The attorneys at McArdle Frost are experienced in handling cases involving the delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis of breast cancer or other cancers. We can evaluate your complaints, investigate your suspicions, and if appropriate, initiate a lawsuit on your behalf.

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