Mammograms are performed for two reasons. A screening mammogram is performed on a patient of appropriate age who has no signs or symptoms suspicious of breast cancer. A diagnostic mammogram is performed on a patient at any age who has any signs or symptom associated with breast cancer.
Screening mammography is the preferred examination for asymptomatic woman at risk for breast cancer. Current recommendations for screening mammography in women without a family history of breast cancer include a baseline mammogram between ages 35 and 40 followed by a biennial mammogram between ages 40 and 49 and annual mammograms after age 50.
Diagnostic mammograms are employed to evaluate the breasts of a woman presenting with a breast complaint (breast lump, breast mass, thickening, nipple discharge) or with a suspicious finding on a previous mammogram (microcalcifications). At times, spot magnification mammograms are required to clarify some dubious finding on a standard mammogram.
Interpretation of mammograms have been standardized. The American College of Radiology (ACR) has established a Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI- RADS) to facilitate comparison between mammographers. BI-RADS assessment categories are as follows:
Category 0: Need additional imaging evaluation
Category 1: Negative
Category 2: Benign finding, noncancerous
Category 3: Probably benign finding, short interval follow-up suggested
Category 4: Suspicious abnormality, biopsy considered
Category 5: Highly suggestive of malignancy, appropriate action needed
The higher the BI-RADS category, the greater the risk that a mammographic finding will be associated with a breast cancer on biopsy. Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Ultrasonography are also adjuvant methods of screening for breast cancer. The higher the risk for breast cancer, the more modalities may be required to screen a particular woman.
It is extremely important to understand that a mammogram is not a fail-safe technique. A patient may have a breast cancer and the mammogram be negative because it fails to show a radiographic detectable abnormality. The medical malpractice attorneys at Gorovitz & Borten will obtain the mammograms and have them reviewed by experts in the field regardless whether the report of the mammogram is originally read as normal.
The mammographic evaluation of young women with dense breasts is at times extremely difficult. Use of ancillary techniques such as digitalized mammography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound must be considered before a patient can be reassured of the benign nature of a breast lesion. Breast biopsy is required when doubts still exist about the benign nature of a breast lesion.
A physician misreading or misinterpreting a mammographic study of a patient with breast cancer would be the basis for a legitimate lawsuit for medical malpractice. If you feel that your health care provider misread or misinterpreted your mammogram and as a result delayed in any way your diagnosis of breast cancer, contact us to discuss your particular situation. Protecting your legal rights will benefit you and your family. Furthermore, 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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