Understanding Your Rights If A Breast Cancer Diagnosis Was Missed Or Delayed

Harry M. Roth, Esq.

Oct 12, 2023

October is National Breast Cancer Month. And as with other cancers, women (and men) have been advised that early diagnosis of breast cancer can improve the outcome and we have been made aware of the importance of checkups and evaluations to assure for early detection. In 2020, the CDC reported almost 12% of every 100,000 women would develop breast cancer.[1] Sadly, even when women do all they should, the failure to diagnose breast cancer happens and the misdiagnosis can have devastating consequences on a patient and their family.

[1] USCS Data Visualizations – CDC

Detection and diagnosis of breast cancer

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. There are other symptoms as well and any change should be checked by a health care provider. In addition to a physical examination, there are different tests that should be done. These include a mammogram, breast ultrasound and breast MRI. There are additional, newer imaging techniques that may be performed as well. If the physical exam or imaging suggests a change in the breast may be cancer, a biopsy would be indicated. A biopsy involves removing small pieces of breast tissue from the area of concern so they can be looked at under a microscope to see if they contain cancer cells.

Generally speaking, the earlier the detection of breast cancer the better the outcome. Cancer research data reports 99% five year survival rate of a patient with localized breast cancer as compared to a 30% five year survival rate with distant breast cancer, meaning cancer that has spread to the lungs, liver or bones.

What to know about breast cancer malpractice cases

The health care providers participating in the evaluation of a patient who reports a lump or change in their breast all must meet the minimum standard of acceptable care for that patient. This includes the ob/gyn or primary care physician who first sees the patient, the radiologist who performs or interprets the mammogram, ultrasound or other imaging, the pathologist who evaluates the breast tissue obtained in a biopsy. Each has a duty to understand and properly identify and report signs, symptoms or findings consistent with cancer and to make the right recommendations for the next step in an evaluation or for treatment.

Studies of breast cancer malpractice cases involve delays equal to or greater than 12 months, with a lack of referral to a surgeon and lack of general follow up.

If you were diagnosed with breast cancer later than you should have, you may have a claim. Not all delayed or missed diagnosis is the result of negligence or may lead to a claim. However, it is important, if you or a loved one feels there was an untimely diagnosis to a breast cancer malpractice lawyer can help you determine whether you have a claim.

Determining if you have a claim

A legitimate claim of breast cancer malpractice requires proof that a health care provider failed to meet appropriate standards of care in identifying and understanding your symptoms, interpreting imaging that was done, analyzing the tissue taken in a biopsy or failed to make proper recommendations for further evaluation or treatment. A lawyer with experience in handling these types of cases can help you navigate the challenges of investigating a claim while you or your loved one focuses on recovery.

Experienced lawyers, working with qualified medical experts will review the records of your treatment and help advise you about whether the treatment you received was below acceptable standards of care and whether that substandard treatment caused or increased the risk of your harm.

Damages in a breast cancer malpractice claim

Every case is unique and the damage and recoveries in one case do not dictate results in any other. However, the elements of damage are consistent and generally fall into two categories. First, there are economic damages. These include lost earnings, both in the past and going into the future, past and future medical expenses for treatment that absent the malpractice would not have been necessary. And in some cases, the cost of assistance a person may require to carry out their activities of daily living. The second category of damages is for such things as physical pain and emotional suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, disfigurement and embarrassment that someone has in the past, and will in the future suffer.

Of course, one can only recover damages if they prove that their injuries were the result of medical malpractice and that malpractice caused or increased the risk of their injuries.

What to do if you think you experienced breast cancer malpractice

If you’ve been injured by medical treatment, you deserve to know all your options. This is why finding a good law office can make a huge difference to the outcome of your case. The law offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth have many years of experience guiding clients through these options and fighting on their behalf.  At  CPR Law we strive to make lasting impacts in our clients’ lives by seeking justice for them and by doing what’s right. Contact our team of lawyers at (888) 972-0072 to schedule your consultation today.