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Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis/Delay in Diagnosis in Erie, PA

If you or someone you love was harmed as a result of failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of breast cancer, you’ll want answers and you may be entitled to compensation. The Erie medical malpractice lawyers at Purchase, George and Murphey, P.C. want to help.

Next to skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women. In 2006, 191,410 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,820 died from breast cancer.* Breast cancer is a deadly condition, but it is one that is being increasingly managed so long as it is diagnosed early and effective treatment is provided. When caught early, while still localized, the disease has a five-year survival rate of 98%. Once the disease has reached the “distant stage” or more advanced stage, the five-year survival rate drops to 23%. Early diagnosis, therefore, is critical.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

To catch breast cancer at its earliest stage, it is important not to wait for symptoms because breast cancer often produces no symptoms when it is small and most easily treated. Thus, following recommended screening guidelines is key.**

The most common symptom is a lump, often painless, in the breast or underarm. Other symptoms include breast pain or heaviness; lasting change to the breast shape or size; redness, swelling, or thickening of breast skin; and nipple abnormalities, including discharge, erosion, inversion, or tenderness. Any of these symptoms should be reported to a doctor as soon as possible.

Why Is Breast Cancer Misdiagnosed?

Reading mammograms is one of the key elements in the early detection of breast cancer. But the task is often poorly reimbursed and radiologists sometimes move quickly in order to process many films. In many communities, the radiologist reviews not just mammograms but sometimes other radiographs at the same time. Inefficiency, stress, and haste combine to make the challenging task of mammogram interpretation one that is destined for the occasional mistake. Some studies suggest that up to 30% of visible breast cancer tumors are missed by reviewing radiologists. Other studies suggest that there are wide disparities in skill among radiologists, with some detecting 98% of visible breast cancers while others detect as low as 8% of visible cancers. While it is understandable that no one is perfect, these mistakes are nevertheless usually preventable if proper care and attention is given to the task.

Other errors that lead to a missed breast cancer diagnosis include:

  • Not identifying an obvious lump during a breast exam.
  • Assuming or misdiagnosing a cancerous tumor as benign.
  • Failing to give consideration to a patient’s high-risk status and failing to order appropriate screening.
  • Failure to order a biopsy.
  • Mistaking a tumor for infection.
  • Failing to perform a physical exam, usually when a mammogram is read as negative.

Contact an Erie Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer

If you or a loved one has suffered because your doctor failed or delayed in the diagnosis of breast cancer, you should contact an experienced Erie medical malpractice lawyer. The Erie breast cancer misdiagnosis attorneys at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. have experience in the investigation, preparation, and trial of complicated medical cases and want to help. Call today for a free evaluation of your case at 814-833-7100 or toll free at 814-833-7100, or use our online consult form.

*Source: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2006 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2010.

**Screening techniques and recommendations are subject to change as research advances and so are not set forth here. For example, studies are anticipated in the very near future on breast density and the best time to measure for risk-prediction models. Talk to your doctor about the current recommendations. Be careful to ensure a full discussion about your personal medical history and your family’s medical history.

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