Breast cancer is generally recognized as being the most common form of cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death, only exceeded by lung cancer.
There are numerous risk factors which have been recognized as being associated with the development of breast cancer. Such risk factors include a family history of breast cancer, a personal history of the prior development of breast cancer and the use of estrogen replacement therapy.
There are many types of breast cancers, the most common types being characterized as either ductal carcinoma or lobular carcinoma.
The early signs of breast cancer include a detection of a lump or a swelling either on the breast itself or in areas adjacent to the breast, including the underarms.
The key to effective treatment of breast cancer is early diagnosis. Most typically, breast cancers are detected through clinical examination of the breast or through mammography, a low dose x-ray.
Medical malpractice frequently occurs in the failure to diagnose breast cancer in its early stages when it can be more effectively treated.
Not infrequently, mammography will not be ordered or the results of mammography will be misinterpreted.
Once breast cancer is suspected, the only definitive way to determine the type of breast cancer is through a biopsy or an analysis of suspect tissue by a qualified pathologist.
In some instances, patients have been misinformed that they had breast cancer when, in fact, they did not, based upon an erroneous biopsy or pathology analysis. Such misdiagnoses have frequently lead to wholly unnecessary treatments, including radical mastectomy, that is, the removal of the presumably cancerous breast.
In other instances, patients have been misinformed that they did not have breast cancer when, in fact, they did. In these instances, a diagnosis and treatment have been unnecessarily delayed, thereby increasing the risk of a more serious outcome.
While there are many treatment options for breast cancer, including surgery, radiation treatment, hormonal therapies and chemotherapies, the most appropriate treatment option can only be determined once the particular type and stage of breast cancer has been definitively ascertained.
In many cases, a delay in diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer will lead to metastasis. Metastasis occurs when the breast cancer spreads to the lymph nodes and to the other parts of the body. Individuals with metastatic breast cancer have a markedly decreased rate of survival.
The Law Firm of Dugan, Babij, Tolley & Kohler, LLC has extensive experience in representing families whose loved ones have been grievously injured or died as a result of medical malpractice associated with the failure to diagnose and treat breast cancer.