Breast cancer is one of the most troubling forms of cancer. It is sometimes easily treated, but it is sometimes an aggressive disease that proves fatal. Because the stakes are so high, it is obviously imperative that doctors be diligent when it comes to diagnosing and treating this condition. One error could have a hugely detrimental impact on the life of a patient, but misdiagnoses are still common.
How and why is breast cancer misdiagnosed? What can you do if you have been a victim of this form of medical malpractice? Following are three reasons why this illness might be incorrectly diagnosed.
1. Early stages are difficult to diagnose
If breast cancer is still in the early stages, this is usually great news worthy of celebration. The earlier your doctor catches it, the less invasive treatment will be, and the more likely it is to be successful. Unfortunately, however, early breast cancer may also be more difficult to diagnose. Cancerous cells will not be so spread and will likely be less visible, so a doctor may fail to diagnose it until it has progressed.
2. Mammograms may not detect lumps
Failure to detect breast cancer due to the method of diagnosis is particularly common when that method is a mammogram. Mammograms function by capturing an X-ray image of the patient’s breast tissue, but sometimes the X-ray does not capture the lump in a way that is distinguishable from normal tissue. This can occur even if a lump is palpable.
3. Different methods yield different results
There are several different methods a doctor might use to potentially diagnose breast cancer. Of course, a mammogram is typically the first option, but you might also undergo an ultrasound or a surgical biopsy or a needle biopsy. These four methods of diagnosis may all yield different results, and sometimes the results a doctor relies on are not the most accurate.
If you or a loved one has breast cancer that was initially misdiagnosed, you may be able to take legal action. It is wise to review the facts of your case with a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney.