Breast cancer misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor or health care provider does not detect, order necessary testing to follow up on breast cancer or, as is often the case in breast cancer malpractice cases, the radiologist misreads a mammogram. Our Maryland breast cancer misdiagnosis lawyers represent victims and their families seeking compensation for misdiagnosis or medical mistake.
Breast cancer is often curable. There are approximately 3 million living breast cancer survivors that can attest to this. But the consequences of breast cancer misdiagnosis can be serious and often fatal because early detection is often a breast cancer patient's best hope of defeating the disease. Detection of cancer at its later stages increases the risk of death significantly for many types of cancer. The difference between Stage I and Stage IV drops survival rates by over 80%, according to some studies. Again, breast cancer survival rates are strongly correlated with early detection and treatment.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women today (after lung cancer), but early detection can almost always stop the cancer in its tracks. When breast cancer is detected early and confined to the breast, the five-year survival rate approaches 100%. In 2011 (the most recent statistics we have), breast cancer deaths in women totaled 39,520 out of the 230,480 women diagnosed. Ten percent of American women will contract breast cancer in the United States. Some of these breast cancer deaths could have been avoided if a doctor had properly diagnosed the patient.Most Common Viable Malpractice Claims
Breast cancer misdiagnosis is the most common cancer misdiagnosis that leads to malpractice lawsuits, though Juries have found malpractice in a wide range of misdiagnosis cases. The most common are the doctor's failure to:
- perform or analyze a mammogram
- inform a patient of mammogram results
- perform or analyze an ultrasound
- perform or analyze a biopsy
- inform the patient of the results of a biopsy
- failure to evaluate a breast lump correctly
- communicate with patients' other doctors to make sure treatment needs are met
How does breast cancer get misdiagnosed? It often starts with a radiologist misreading a mammogram. A mammogram is the first line of defense in screening for breast cancer. Incredibly, a mammogram has a false-negative - that is, the failure to detect a malignant cancer - rate of at least 10%. Why is this? The mammogram-reading skills of general radiologists vary enormously, according to a study. In the study, 75% of radiologists detected, on average, 70% of the breast cancers that were visible on 100 mammograms. Most doctors are doing their job very well.
But here is the incredible part: scores ranged from a high of 98% to a low of 8%. In other words, a smaller number of radiologists do not appear to be particularly skilled at diagnosing breast cancer. Reading mammograms is not easy because the patients are healthy - there are rarely symptoms because healthy women get mammograms as screenings. Most mammograms are given to healthy women who do not have cancer. But if you are not good at looking at a mammogram, give the results to a radiologist that can.
But it is not just radiologists that make errors in these cases. Delay in or failure to diagnose is the second most frequent malpractice claim against obstetrician/gynecologists. The most common claims are the failure to:
- perform a proper physical exam,
- find the tumor of concern during an exam
- recommend a referral
- follow-up to make sure the patient gets the recommended care
If you believe you may have a breast cancer medical malpractice case, call our lawyers at 1-800-553-8082 or click here for a free online consultation.Related Links:
- Overview of Malpractice Cases
- Overview of Misdiagnosis Cases
- Breast Cancer Support (support group for victims of breast cancer)
We provide these sample verdicts and settlements in these cases because people have a right to see how these claims are being valued. But you have to keep in mind that these verdicts do not predict the results in any case. Why? Because there are just too many factors at play in valuing cases.