Delay in Diagnosis of Breast and Other Cancers

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A diagnosis of cancer strikes fear in the heart of everyone who hears it. The diagnosis and treatment of many types of cancer have come a long way in the last decade. Advances in science and technology have brought about new methods of diagnosis and treatment for many types of cancer. Early detection and new treatments are providing cures once thought impossible and improving the lives of people afflicted with cancer. With breast cancer in particular, detecting the cancer early improves a woman's chances for a complete recovery. 

When serious illnesses are not diagnosed quickly, the delay can cause debilitating injuries, and sometimes death. Delays almost always reduce success rates in patients with cancer, and can eliminate some treatment options that are only available with early detection. Unfortunately, failure to diagnose and treat breast cancer is an all too common occurrence. Many malpractice cases arise from misdiagnosis, or delayed diagnosis of cancer. Failure to diagnose or delay in diagnosing a patient's breast cancer soon enough can have devastating consequences on your health or the health of a loved one. 

A delay in diagnosing breast and other cancers can result from any number of errors on the part of the woman's physician, the radiologist reading the mammogram, the pathologist interpreting the biopsy, or the communication system between various physicians. The following unacceptable errors can lead to a delay in both proper diagnosis and timely treatment:

  • Missing an obvious lump during a breast exam;
  • Ignoring a history of acute pain in a breast;
  • Mistaking a tumor for an infection;
  • Failing to investigate nipple discharge;
  • Misreading, failing to order, or follow up on a mammogram;
  • Failure to begin required treatment or prescribe necessary medication before disease become untreatable;
  • Failure to order tests necessary to confirm or deny disease;
  • Error in reading test results or images;
  • Failure to promptly refer the patient to a specialist for appropriate testing;
  • Failure to  follow standard procedures;
  • Failure to conduct tests in light of a patient's medical or family history;
  • Mistaking a tumor as benign and failing to recommend biopsy, ultrasound or breast removal when indicated.

The impact and consequences such events have on a family can be life-shattering.  A delay in diagnosis or failure to diagnose breast or other cancers can lead to unplanned medical bills, lost wages, years of painful treatment, a significant loss in quality of life and even death. If you believe the diagnosis and treatment of your breast or other cancer was delayed through error, perhaps we can help. To contact a medical malpractice lawyer for a free case evaluation, please complete our free case evaluation form above.

Our attorneys handle matters primarily in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Brandon E. Vaughn


Chair, Black Firm Member Resource Group

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