With a 12 percent probability of women developing it in their lifetime, breast cancer is among the most common forms of human malignancy. The highest risk of getting breast cancer is among women over the age of 50.
Failure to diagnose cancer in a timely manner is also a leading cause of medical malpractice lawsuits. Not only do some estimates place the failure to diagnose breast cancer in a timely manner at about 40 percent of all medical malpractice lawsuits, they also happen to result in among the most frequent settlements of over 1 million dollars. The target of the suits is more often gynecologists and family practitioners rather than surgeons.
An effective way to spot early signs of the onset of breast cancer is through monthly self-exams and regular mammograms and gynecological examinations. Early detection greatly improves the chances for a full recovery. Symptoms to look out for are a suspicious mass, nipple discharge and a painful or reddened breast.
Doctors, however, should take a woman seriously if she complains of these symptoms. Relying too heavily on a woman’s age and on mammogram results as predictive factors may be considered negligent behavior. Mammogram results should not be exclusively relied upon to conclude there is no malignancy if a woman has detected a lump in her breast. A breast mass should always be resolved.
According to epidemiological studies, the development of breast cancer may involve environmental, genetic and endocrine factors.
Environmental – the relatively high incidence of women in Japan post-World War II that developed breast cancer suggests that radiation exposure is a contributing factor. Dietary fat intake may be another. Some studies suggest that a diet rich in beta carotene may contribute to a diminished risk of developing breast cancer.
Genetic – women with parents, siblings or children who have developed breast cancer have a two-to three-fold higher risk in developing breast cancer over the general population. Those with relatives in extended families who have developed breast cancer are also at an increased risk of developing it.
Endocrine – an onset of the menstrual cycle at an early age, a late onset of menopause, a late age at first pregnancy, not having borne a child and a prolonged use of estrogen and oral contraceptives are all factors that seem to be associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
If you or a loved one has suffered because of your doctor’s failure to diagnose or delay in diagnosing cancer, please contact us. We will help you find a qualified medical malpractice lawyer in your area who can handle your claim.