Failure to Detect Breast Cancer

Doctor using a smart phone in hospital. Concept of healthcare and medical, communication.

When a doctor fails to diagnose breast cancer, the consequences can be catastrophic. The disease can progress and spread to other parts of the body. If the cancer is finally diagnosed, it could be too late for standard treatments to work.

Patients might be faced with an incredibly tough road to recovery or forced to say goodbye to their families. As a result, patients and their families can experience unnecessary and unwarranted emotional distress and suffering. 

Have you or a loved one suffered because a doctor in New York City failed to detect and diagnose breast cancer? Contact the compassionate and experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C.

We can help you understand your legal options and fight to recover the compensation your family deserves. With more than 200 years of experience and $1 Billion recovered for our clients, you can rest assured that your case will be in the best possible hands.

We offer a free consultation, so give our law firm a call to schedule yours today. 

How Common is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer has become increasingly common. In fact, today, it’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the United States. One in eight American women develop invasive breast cancer.

In total, there are roughly 3.5 million American women who have a history of breast cancer. That includes women who are currently battling the disease as well as women who are in remission and recovery.

Breast cancer isn’t just common, it’s also a devastating disease. For women, the death rate associated with breast cancer is the highest of any type of cancer. Experts believe that more than 42,100 women will die from breast cancer in 2020. 

It’s important to note that while incidents of the disease have now slowed, the death rate has. Many believe that this is due, in part, to advances in breast cancer treatment and earlier and more aggressive screening initiatives.

However, if breast cancer is not detected – in a timely manner or at all – the disease can do considerable damage to the body and, in time, cause death.

Failing to Detect Breast Cancer Can Be Medical Negligence

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When you go to the doctor, you expect that they’ll put their considerable medical training, expertise, and knowledge to use. You hope that they’ll listen to your complaints, run necessary diagnostic tests, and rule out health issues until they identify the problem. However, visits to the doctor don’t always unfold this way.

Many doctors are overworked, overtired, and stretched in too many different directions. Some don’t take the time to listen to patient complaints or concerns. Others don’t communicate with medical staff properly, allowing information to get lost along the way. All of these things can cause a doctor to miss a breast cancer diagnosis.

When a doctor fails to use the level of skill that’s expected of them, that’s medical negligence. Whenever a doctor makes an avoidable mistake or error, that’s medical negligence. When a doctor fails to meet the standard of care that’s required and is negligent, they can do considerable harm to their patients.

If your breast cancer wasn’t detected because your doctor failed to take the steps that were necessary to find it, you could potentially have the right to hold them and their medical establishment (hospital) accountable.

What Are the Early Signs of Breast Cancer?

Whether you visit the doctor for a routine physical or make a trip to the hospital because you’re not feeling all that great, you should be subject to a physical examination. If you’re a woman, a breast examination is a routine part of this. During a routine breast exam, a doctor will:

  • Massage and feel your tissue and lymph nodes under your arms for any unusual breast lumps or masses
  • Examine the shape, size, and color of the breasts
  • Examine shape or direction of the nipples, and
  • Look for prominent veins on the breasts.

In addition to this physical exam, the doctor should ask you about your family history and any health or physical issues you’ve experienced recently. Your answers, in conjunction with the physical exam, could point to some common early warning signs of breast cancer. This could include complaints of pain in the chest area or unexplained changes in your menstrual cycle.

These are all early signs of breast cancer. If you exhibit any of these signs, the doctor should order diagnostic tests to determine if you might have breast cancer.

How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?

If a doctor detects a lump or notices signs of breast cancer during an exam, there are several ways to determine if you have developed the disease. 

Mammogram: A mammogram is an X-Ray of the breast tissue. It can identify signs of breast cancer – including tumors and microcalcifications – in women before they begin to experience signs and symptoms. 

Ultrasound: An ultrasound creates an image of the breast using sound waves. Often, ultrasounds are relied upon to determine if a lump is solid (and likely cancerous) or filled with fluid.

MRI: An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test uses radio waves to create an image of the inside of the breast, which can reveal masses or irregularities.

Biopsy: The only way to actually tell if cancerous cells exist in the breast is to perform a biopsy. This involves taking a sample of the tissue and analyzing it at the lab.

Once breast cancer is diagnosed, it has to be staged. Stages range from 0 to IV. Stage 0 means that the cancer is non-invasive and has remained inside the milk ducts. Stage IV, the most serious, means that the cancer has metastasized and spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment options and chances of recovery depend on the stage of the cancer at the time of the diagnosis. So, it is often critical for breast cancer to be diagnosed as early as possible. That’s why it’s such a serious problem when a doctor is negligent and misses a diagnosis.

Consequences of a Missed or Delayed Breast Cancer Diagnosis

When a doctor fails to detect breast cancer, two things can happen. First, the cancer might never be diagnosed at all. This would be considered a failure to diagnose breast cancer. Alternatively, the cancer might be diagnosed down the line, after it has had a chance to progress. This would be considered a delayed diagnosis. 

When a breast cancer diagnosis is delayed:

  • The cancer can progress and become much more difficult to treat;
  • The cancer can metastasis and affect other parts of the body;
  • Treatment can become much more invasive, painful, and expensive; and
  • The odds of beating the cancer become much lower.

When a breast cancer diagnosis is missed:

  • The cancer can progress quickly and cause death.

Both of these mistakes can cost patients their health, livelihoods, and even their lives. When a doctor fails to detect breast cancer, it can have devastating emotional consequences for the breast cancer victim and their family. 

How Long Do I Have to Sue If a Doctor Failed to Detect Breast Cancer?

Official Court document for a Personal Injury Lawsuit on a desktop.

When you are injured because of a medical professional’s negligence, you can potentially file a lawsuit to hold them accountable and recover compensation. However, you won’t have an unlimited amount of time to do so.

In New York, there’s a statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. Typically, you’ll have up to two years and six months from the date of the medical error to file a malpractice claim. 

With a breast cancer misdiagnosis, however, you could have additional time to assert your rights. The statute of limitations can potentially be tolled – or paused – until you learn about the medical error. That might be when your cancer is ultimately diagnosed by another physician or when a loved one dies. 

It’s really important to make sure that your claim is filed on time. Missing the deadline will bar a financial recovery, which can be crucial as you fight cancer or cope with the death of a loved one. The best course of action is to enlist the help of a qualified NYC personal injury lawyer as soon as you suspect or learn that something went wrong.

Get Help With Your Failure to Detect Breast Cancer Case

Did your doctor fail to perform a routine physical which could have detected your breast cancer? Was your diagnosis unnecessarily delayed because of medical negligence? If so, contact Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C. for immediate legal assistance.

You could be entitled to compensation for your present and future medical expenses, lost income and wages, and pain and suffering. If someone you love has died, our team can help you assert a wrongful death claim and demand financial justice for your devastating loss.

We know you probably have a lot of questions. We’re here to help you in any way that we can. Simply give our New York City personal injury law firm a call to arrange a time to sit down to discuss your case. We’re always here to take your call, so reach out to us for help today.