Medical Malpractice/Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis in New York & New Jersey
Most people have heard the statistic that one out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. More frightening still is that, as published in the New England Journal of Medicine, somewhere around 31% of cases of breast cancer are initially misdiagnosed.
What makes this statistic particularly disturbing is that out of all cancer treatments, the ones currently used on breast cancer patients have the best chance of a successful outcome if the disease is detected early and diagnosed correctly.
Whether it was erroneously overlooked during a mammogram, or an abscess, cyst, or other lesion is incorrectly diagnosed as a malignancy, thousands of women, as well as some men, have endured terrible losses as the result of misdiagnosed breast cancer.
We strongly urge you to consult with our skilled, empathetic team of New Jersey and New York breast cancer misdiagnosis lawyers at Metro Law. If you or a family member was misdiagnosed as being free of breast malignancy or misdiagnosed as having cancer when you did not, you are eligible to file a suit against the people who caused you financial, emotional, and physical distress.
We are ready to file a medical malpractice suit on your behalf and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive fair financial compensation for the ordeal you have been put through and continue to endure.
If you have lost a family member due to an incorrect breast cancer diagnosis, we will help you file a wrongful death suit. Even though it cannot replace your loved one, a successful lawsuit might bring you some sense of justice.
What is Breast Cancer?
Cancer of any kind is, at its core, cell growth that is uncontrolled due to the presence of abnormal genetic material. Generally speaking, when cells die off they are replaced by new cells in an organized cell replacement pattern. Cancer upsets that order by causing unregulated cell growth which in turn causes cells with mutations to continue replicating themselves with no way of stopping, creating masses known as tumors.
Tumors that are harmless and do not spread are called benign. Cancerous tumors spread throughout the body and are malignant. Malignant tumors that develop in the breast or breast tissue are referred to as breast cancer. The tumor can form in any component of the breast, such as the fibrous tissue, the milk ducts, or the glands.
If left untreated, breast cancer will spread to nearby organs and tissues, like the lymph nodes, which can be found in various parts of the body such as the neck, chest, abdomen, armpits, and groin. The lymphatic system provides an effective pathway for your body to spread cancer.
A Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Healthcare providers such as gynecologists and general practitioners should manually examine your breasts during a check-up, feeling for any lumps or abnormalities.
If something unusual is discovered, the provider has a duty to recommend further testing, such as a mammogram–an x-ray of breast tissue that can reveal any abnormalities before they can even be felt. The standard of care also involved mammograms being performed yearly on women who are more than 40-years-old and on those with certain risk factors.
If anything unusual is noticed during the mammogram, providers can order additional imaging tests like a biopsy or an ultrasound. A biopsy is the removal of a small section of tissue in order to study the cells and determine whether there are any pathological abnormalities.
Timing is everything when it comes to diagnosing breast cancer because the disease is often curable when it is detected early on. The survival rate of breast cancer decreases considerably the longer the disease remains undetected and continues to grow and spread.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
The majority of breast cancer cases appear in women with no immediate relatives who have had it, while between 5% and 10% can accredit the primary cause of their cancer to defective BRCA genes they inherited.
Most breast cancer is discovered in women who are 50-years-old and up. Even though a small percentage of breast cancers are inherited from blood relatives, most breast cancer comes from simply being alive for long enough that the mutations occur due to environmental factors and simply getting older.
Typically, eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and maintaining a minimal stress level can help fight the outset of breast cancer but it is not a guarantee that you will avoid it. Risk factors include sex, age, and lifestyle choices. For instance, if you are overweight or obese, drink, smoke, have heavy breasts, and have an inactive lifestyle, you might be at a heightened risk of developing breast cancer.
Certainly, personal history, genetics, and family matter as well, including whether you or somebody in your family was diagnosed with ovarian or breast cancer, and if you had radiation treatments to your upper body.
Genetic makeup, previous pregnancies, and how old you were when you got your first period will also play a role, as will whether you have undergone hormone replacement therapy during menopause. Routine exposure to chemicals found in everyday products, such as sunscreen, cosmetics, food, and even water can also contribute to the development of breast cancer, as can a deficiency in vitamin D addition to minimal levels of vitamin D.
Women who have taken Diethylstilbestrol, a non-steroidal estrogen medication designed to prevent miscarriages, are more prone to developing breast cancer as well.
Ultimately, there are myriad risk factors that could increase your likelihood of developing breast cancer, which has multiple symptoms you should be aware of and report to your doctor immediately if you notice them.
How Does a Delayed Breast Cancer Diagnosis Happen?
Imagine this: A woman finds a lump in her breast while performing a self-exam. She goes to see a doctor, who also notices the lump while conducting a physical exam. Then, two years later at her next mammogram, the woman learns that she is in the advanced stages of breast cancer. The most likely causes of the delay in her breast cancer diagnosis include:
- Her doctor failed to order any screening tests: Without the information these tests provide, the doctor advises her that the lump is only a benign cyst and she shouldn’t worry.
- Her radiologist misinterprets the mammogram film: Her doctor thinks the lump is most likely a benign cyst, but orders a mammogram just to be safe. Her radiologist misreads the film and inaccurately reports that the test came back negative.
- Her doctor neglected to order a biopsy following a negative mammogram: After studying the results of the negative mammogram, the doctor tells the woman she is good to go despite the lump still being there and not properly identified.
- Her pathologist misreads a biopsy slide: Her doctor did order a biopsy after studying the negative mammogram results. The patient is delighted when her biopsy is negative and her doctor is glad he ordered the extra test just to be sure. Sadly, pathology, which is the study of tissue samples, is prone to human error and carelessness.
- Her doctor fails to act upon test results or communicate effectively with other specialists and providers: Her doctor ordered the biopsy after her mammogram came back negative. Her biopsy, however, tested positive for cancer. Her doctor never told the patient the results of her biopsy or took any action based on the findings.
A serious delay in a diagnosis of breast cancer leaves women with fewer treatment options and a smaller chance of recovery or survival.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Most people are well aware that any lump found in the breast needs to be examined by a doctor as soon as possible. The lump could be benign, cysts are not uncommon, but a lump in the breast or surrounding areas, swollen breasts, dimpled breasts, bleeding nipples, or dry, irritated, and sore nipples can all also be symptoms of breast cancer.
Experiencing pain anywhere in your breast is cause for an immediate check-up with a doctor. Problematically, the symptoms of breast cancer look very similar to those associated with other conditions, like breast infections. In addition, sore or painful breasts can happen with hormonal shifts, and the size and shape of breasts will change during the course of a woman’s lifetime.
Pregnancy, menstruation, and weight gain can also change the way breasts look and feel. Lumps can appear if the fibrous breast tissue is aggravated by hormones or even excessive caffeine. Since identifying the source of specific changes in your breast can be challenging without medical assistance, scheduling routine screening tests for breast cancer, like MRIs or mammograms, particularly for women over 50, is vital, as well as routine gynecological visits for physical examinations of your breasts and reproductive organs.
Periodic self-examination can also help detect things like breast changes and lumps as soon as possible.
Injuries Caused by a Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer
There are numerous negative consequences that accompany the misdiagnosis of breast cancer, such as:
- Excessive chemotherapy and/or radiation, which both have several negative side effects
- Unnecessary surgery, such as a mastectomy or a lumpectomy
- A delay in treatment that lets cancer worsen and spread
- Necessary rehabilitation and reconstructive surgery
- Medical expenses
- Emotional distress and physical pain
- Wrongful death
At Metro Law, we are committed to protecting the rights of those who have been victims of breast cancer misdiagnosis or any kind of medical malpractice. We have seen firsthand the pain and hardships that medical negligence can cause a patient and their family.
What Damages Am I Entitled To After a Misdiagnosis?
Victims of New York and New Jersey medical malpractice are entitled to two kinds of financial compensation: economic and non-economic.
- Economic damages: These are intended to reimburse you for real, calculable expenditures, such as medical bills, physical therapy costs, lost income, reduced future earning potential, and ongoing health and disability costs.
- Non-economic damages: These are meant to compensate you for intangible damages, including physical pain, emotional anguish, loss of quality of life, and disfigurement.
In very rare instances where the medical negligence was especially egregious and resulted in the fatal progression of the disease or the needless removal of one or both breasts, the medical malpractice attorneys in New York and New Jersey at Metro Law might be able to secure punitive damages on your behalf.
Punitive damages are monies awarded over and above your compensatory damages. The goal of punitive damages is to punish the negligent party and to serve as a warning to others thereby reducing the amount of negligence and recklessness within the medical community.
How Often is Breast Cancer Misdiagnosed in New York and New Jersey?
In the United States, about 300,000 deaths occur annually due to colon, breast, prostate, and lung cancers alone. The single most important element in determining the feasibility of a cure is detecting it early before it has a chance to spread.
Survival odds and treatment options are proportional to and limited by the distribution and size of cancer when it is diagnosed. Although not every form of cancer can be detected early, the most common can be detected via recognition of early warning signs and screening tests. The five-year survival rate for early-stage breast cancer is 94%.
Due to their prevalence, suggestions for screening tests for the four cancers listed above have been made by several medical institutions, like the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer screening includes both baseline and periodic screening mammography for women aged 40 and above because it can detect many breast anomalies before they are big enough to be felt by the patient or physician. The screening also includes a breast examination conducted by a physician and regular self-examination by the patient.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney in New Jersey or New York
You can rest assured that when you come to Metro Law with your case of medical malpractice resulting in a breast cancer misdiagnosis you will be treated with respect and understanding and that we will do everything in our power to get you and your loved ones the money you are entitled to.
If you or a family member has been the victim of misdiagnosed breast cancer, our skilled and aggressive trial attorneys understand what needs to be done to get you the financial compensation you deserve. After we agree to take your case, you can rely on our knowledge of medical malpractice, our strong work ethic, and our overall dedication to securing you the highest amount of economic recovery possible.
Contact the breast cancer misdiagnosis attorneys at Metro Law by calling 973-344-6587.