Every year, more than 250,000 women in this country develop breast cancer. Tragically, more than 40,000 of those women will die from the disease. There are currently more than three million women in the United States who have been diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. Breast cancer is most frequently diagnosed in women who are over 50 years of age, however, in approximately 10 percent of all newly-diagnosed cases, the woman is younger than 45 years of age.
Over the past few decades, there has been major efforts put forth to increase awareness and to encourage women to conduct monthly self-checks and regular screenings by their doctor. Although these efforts have saved countless lives, there is still a high rate of delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis. Women who have suffered a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis face harsh physical and emotional harm, with extended and more radical treatments often needed to fight the cancer. Unfortunately, many of these women die because the cancer has progressed too far by the time it is finally diagnosed.
There are certain factors that have been identified as increasing the risks of developing cancer. These include:
- Alcohol: Women who drink two to three alcoholic drinks each day increase their risk of developing breast cancer by 20 percent.
- Weight: Once a woman reaches the postmenopausal stage in their life, their risk of developing breast cancer increases by 1.5 times if they are overweight. If the woman is obese, the risk is doubled.
- Physical Fitness: Women who exercise on a regular basis lower their risk of developing breast cancer by between 10 to 25 percent.
- Smoking: Women who are heavy smokers increase their risk of breast cancer.
How Frequent Is Misdiagnosis?
Despite the awareness and education about the dangers of breast cancer, the rate of misdiagnosis is high, leaving patients not receiving the treatment they need to save their lives. A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can be the fault of the doctor or the pathologist. And the rate of which this happens is alarming. For example, in one study, pathologists misdiagnosed samples 25 percent of the time. In samples of tissues that contained atypia, a condition that often develops into breast cancer, doctors failed to diagnosis the condition an incredible 52 percent of the time.
These percentages are troubling, leaving patients to wonder just how valid their diagnosis may be. When medical professionals miss the symptoms and presence of breast cancer, the consequences are often tragic.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of breast cancer, contact a medical malpractice attorney who will evaluate your case and determine what legal options you may have.