Why A Doctor Who Delays A Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer Might Be Sued For Malpractice

May 24 07:24 2010 Joseph Hernandez Print This Article

Even the very best doctors sometimes make mistakes. But there are particular mistakes which seem to be made more regularly and to be made by more doctors. Two such mistakes deal with breast cancer and if they take place the outcome might be deadly - a hold up in the diagnosis of the cancer. A physician who makes such a mistake and thus holds up the detection of the patient's breast cancer until it is advanced may be liable for medical malpractice.

Situations regarding the delayed diagnosis of breast cancer commonly involve 1 or 2 medical errors - failing to do diagnostic tests to exclude the possibility of cancer when a lump is felt in the breast and misreading a mammogram. Should a doctor make one of these mistakes and thereby delays the detection of the cancer until it metastasizes,Guest Posting she might have a lawsuit for medical malpractice.

The first most likely mistake made by physicians is not to order a diagnostic test when a woman indicates that she discovered a mass while doing a self-conducted breast examination or the doctor finds the mass during a screening clinical breast examination. Some physicians will inform the female patient that this is just a benign cyst, especially if she is under forty and has no family history of breast cancer.

Regrettably, even though the majority of new cases of breast cancer occur in females older than fifty, younger women can, and are, diagnosed with breast cancer regularly. Additionally, it is not possible to assess, using only a clinical breast examination, whether a lump in the breast is a benign cyst or a cancerous mass. For this reason a physician should perform diagnostic testing so as to establish if the mass is cancerous. Tests that can be ordered are a mammogram, a biopsy or an aspiration.

Should the woman actually have breast cancer, the failure to order diagnostic testing may lead to the metastasis of the cancer.

The other mistake made by doctors is to incorrectly interpret a mammogram. Doctors use mammograms to picture structures in the breast that might be cancerous. The mammogram produces pictures of the inside of the breast with low dose x-rays of the woman's compressed breast. The resulting images are then analyzed by physicians for the presence of any structures or changes that might be cancerous. Unfortunately, physicians occasionally miss what is literally in front of them. Sometimes doctors miss an abnormality that shows up in the mammogram. In some other cases, doctors wrongly diagnose an abnormal structure or change as harmless without ordering further tests such as a biopsy to exclude the possibility of cancer.

Either of the errors described above can lead to a delay in the diagnosis of the woman's breast cancer. The longer the detection of breast cancer is delayed, the more likely it is that the cancer will spread and reach an advanced stage. If the cancer becomes advanced, the treatment alternatives for the woman are more restricted. In addition, her 5-year survival rate, the probability that she will be alive at least five years after her diagnosis, even with treatment, decreases significantly.

Once the cancer gets to the third stage, the survival rate drops to fifty-five percent and by the fourth stage it is only approximately twenty percent. Had the cancer been detected early, the 5-year survival rate would have been over 80 percent, perhaps even above 95% if it had been detected sufficiently early.

Medical mistakes can result in terrible outcomes. This is particularly true for women with cancer. The delay in diagnosis may lead to the need for a mastectomy, limited treatment possibilities, and in some cases, might be even lead to the death of the woman. Under such circumstances, errors such as those described above may constitute medical malpractice.

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Joseph Hernandez
Joseph Hernandez

Joseph Hernandez is an Attorney accepting medical malpractice cases. You can learn more about advanced breast cancer and metastasized breast cancer by visiting the websites.

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