Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuits

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Breast cancer misdiagnosis occurs when physicians or pathologists incorrectly classify cancerous breast tissue as normal or vice versa. It can delay vital treatment or cause unnecessary surgical intervention, costing patients time and money. A breast cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit can help offset these unexpected costs.

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Why Women Are Filing Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuits

In 2019, there will be an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in the United States. Early diagnosis is key to effective treatment and cure – but some doctors fail to diagnose breast cancer in a timely manner, which can cause unnecessary suffering.

Early detection, before the cancer has a chance to spread to nearby or distant parts of the body, significantly increases the rate of survival, as shown in the table below. A failure to diagnose breast cancer, or a wrong diagnosis, can delay much needed treatments that could ultimately mean the difference between life and death.

Breast Cancer SEER Staging Overview

Source: Validation Study of the American Joint Committee on Cancer Eighth Edition Prognostic Stage Compared With the Anatomic Stage in Breast Cancer, JAMA Oncology
Staging CategoryDefinition5-Year Relative Breast Cancer Survival
LocalizedCancer cells have not spread beyond breast tissue99%
RegionalizedCancer cells have spread to nearby organs, tissues or lymph nodes85%
DistantCancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasis)27%

Women whose breast cancer should have been caught earlier are understandably upset by the delayed diagnosis. They may face more aggressive disease and have to undergo more intensive treatments due to factors outside their control.

Cancer survivors, or family members of those who died from their cancer, may be able to file a lawsuit if their breast cancer diagnosis could or should have been made earlier.

How Is Breast Cancer Misdiagnosed?

The good news is that invasive breast cancer samples are correctly diagnosed 96% of the time, according to one recent study. However, there are several ways that doctors can misdiagnose or fail to diagnose breast cancer:

  • Dense breast tissue can obscure cancerous tissue in mammograms
  • Some forms of cancer can masquerade as other conditions like mastitis.

In addition, two serious conditions that can lead to breast cancer are misdiagnosed more frequently:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ is incorrectly classified in 16% of cases.
  • Atypical hyperplasia is incorrectly classified 52% of the time.

In the case of persistent symptoms without tissue biopsy testing, a second opinion is the best way to ensure timely and correct diagnosis of breast cancer. If your breast cancer should have been diagnosed earlier, you could have a legal right to seek payment for therapy related to your diagnosis.

Breast Cancer Screenings: Should All Women Get Mammograms?

Patients at average risk of breast cancer can facilitate early diagnosis by maintaining regular clinical breast exams with their nurse or physician. Self-exams are no longer recommended for women at average risk of breast cancer, as they may lead to unnecessary screening of normal breast tissue.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends the following screenings for women of average risk based on age:

  • 40 – 49 years old: Talk to your doctor to understand when to start and how often to get mammogram screenings
  • 50 – 74 years old: Mammogram every two years. Women ages 40 to 49 should proactively speak with their doctor to understand when to start and how often to get mammogram screenings.

Women who know they carry a higher risk of breast cancer should maintain an active dialogue with their physician to ensure appropriate screening procedures for their individual situation.

Breast Cancer High Risk Factors

Factors You Can Control

  • Physical Activity: Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Obesity or High Body Mass Index: Post-menopausal women with higher body mass index are at higher risk than those with a healthy weight.
  • Certain Hormones: Hormone replacement therapy with a combination of estrogen and progesterone is associated with increased risk of breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Some birth control pills are also associated with increased cancer risk.
  • Reproductive History: A first pregnancy after 30 years of age and never having a full-term pregnancy increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Alcohol: The more alcohol a woman drinks, the higher her risk of breast cancer.

Factors You Cannot Control

  • Age: Risk increases as we get older.
  • Genes/DNA: Certain genetic changes like BRCA mutations can put you at higher risk.
  • Hormone Exposure: Early menstruation and/or late menopause increase hormone exposure time and risk of breast cancer.
  • Dense Breast Tissue: Breasts with more connective tissue than fatty tissue can hide cencer tissue in mammograms and increase cancer risk.
  • Previous Breast Cancer or Tissue Abnormalities: Women with a history of breast cancer or, atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ are at higher risk of getting breast cancer.
  • Family History: Risk of breast cancer is higher for women with first-degree relatives who have had breast cancer.
  • Radiation Therapy: Women previously treated with radiation in the upper abdomen at a younger age are more prone to breast cancer later in life.
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES): Women given DES to prevent miscarriage infants carried under the influence of DES are both at higher risk of breast cancer

Doctors who fail to recommend the appropriate screenings based on age and risk factors may be held liable for negligence or another form of medical malpractice.

Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit FAQs

Can I Sue for Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis?

If you were diagnosed with breast cancer later than you should have been, then you may have a legitimate legal claim. If you had a close relative (such as a parent or adult child) who died due to a delayed or missed breast cancer diagnosis, you may be able to submit a wrongful death claim.

It’s important to know that not every delayed or missed diagnosis will be a viable legal case. The strongest cases are those where a doctor failed to advise the patient to get a recommended screening based on age or increased risk factors. To find out if your case is viable, get a free case review today.

How Much Money Can My Family Receive for a Breast Cancer Claim?

Every case is different, and the forms of compensation available will differ depending on your individual circumstances. Some of the most common damages awarded for breast cancer misdiagnosis cases include:

  • Pain and suffering caused by the delayed diagnosis
  • Costs of treatment and follow-up care
  • Income due to missed work

In cases where a doctor was clearly negligent or malicious, punitive damages could also be awarded to dissuade similar behavior in the future.

Are Breast Cancer Lawyers Expensive?

Legal costs, including lawyer fees, will be paid as a percentage of any compensation you receive from your case. If your case doesn’t end with a favorable verdict or settlement award, you will not be required to pay any legal fees.

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