The life threatening nature of cancer demands that it be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Failure by a physician (primary care, obstetrician - gynecologist, radiologist, surgeon or nurse practitioner) to detect cancer can mean the difference between life and death.
Even after a referral for a mammogram or for a breast biopsy, providers of primary breast care have an ongoing responsibility for follow-up and ensuring their patient's needs for breast care. Delayed diagnosis of breast cancer is generally due to failure of the medical provider to:
perform a breast examination
identify a palpable breast abnormality
order a screening mammogram
correctly interpret an abnormal mammogram
obtain an accurate positive family history of breast or ovarian cancer
order genetic testing in appropriate patients
biopsy a breast abnormality regardless of the results of the mammogram
follow-up on abnormal test results
evaluate a breast lump during pregnancy
refer to surgeon for biopsy evaluation
compare the last mammogram with previous mammograms.
Failure to biopsy a suspicious area in the breast is a common cause of failure to timely diagnose a breast cancer. At times, the failure is due to a primary care physician or gynecologist's failure to refer a woman to a surgeon with expertise in diagnosing breast cancer; in other occasions it is the surgeon's failure to perform the biopsy a woman was referred for in the first place. Breast biopsies are usually indicated when a patient has:
a breast lump
abnormal micro calcifications on a mammogram
a suspicious lesion on a mammogram
If a breast lump is discovered during a pregnancy, the urgency to diagnose the nature of the lump is even more urgent because the hormonal changes during pregnancy can greatly accelerate the tumor's growth. A diagnostic mammogram, breast ultrasound and breast biopsy if indicated can be safely performed during pregnancy. Diagnosis and treatment of a breast cancer during pregnancy takes priority and must be discussed with the woman keeping the baby's well-being in mind.
If you (or a loved one) are suffering from complications due to a failure to timely diagnose, delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of breast cancer, or the recommended screening guidelines were not followed, let Dr. Borten and our Boston area medical malpractice attorneys at Gorovitz & Borten evaluate your case. We can help you assert your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
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