For patients with cancer, time is very important. If cancer is diagnosed in time, the patient will have options. However, if cancer is not diagnosed correctly and in a timely manner, treatment options become more limited, invasive, or painful. The patient is also more likely to die.
Patients depend on doctors to correctly diagnose their condition the first time. If test results are misread or the appropriate test not ordered, lives are put in danger. When it comes to breast cancer, the chances of survival for at least five years is clearly linked to how early a patient is diagnosed. The mismanagement of records, misreading mammograms, misdiagnosis of the cancer, or underestimating how serious a lump is are some of the most common errors when it comes to misdiagnosing breast cancer. When the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are delayed, the results can be fatal.
Cause of a misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosing breast cancer:
- Heavy reliance on negative mammograms (mammograms are not definitive diagnostic tools)
- Ignoring or not following up on patient complaints (the concerns of a patient should never be minimized or ignored)
- Failure to obtain a thorough and proper history (this history should include questioning about when any breast and axially symptoms first appeared and how they progressed)
- Ignoring the patient’s risk factors
- Personal or family history of breast cancer
- Previous breast biopsy showing hyperplasia
- Atypical hyperplasia, papilloma, or adenosis
- Nulliparity, delayed childbearing, or a negative history of breastfeeding
- Early menstruation and late menopause
- Advanced age
- Failure to perform a proper an adequate breast examination (signs of breast cancer can be missed if only a perfunctory physical exam is conducted)
- Relying on the belief that a patient is too young to have breast cancer (while most breast lumps are benign, particularly in young women, the physician should still obtain a diagnosis)
- Failure to order a breast biopsy
- Failure to order a mammogram when a lump is discovered
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a delay in diagnosis for breast cancer, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
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