Breast Cancer - Medical Malpractice Lawyers
LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
Our medical malpractice lawyers deal with Breast Cancer negligence cases. If you would like legal advice at no cost and with no further obligation just call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices. Our Breast Cancer medical malpractice lawyers usually deal with personal injury compensation cases on a contingency basis which means that you only pay your lawyers legal fees if the case is won.
Our personal injury lawyers are currently reviewing numerous claims for breast cancer medical malpractice and arranging legal representation for women from all over Canada. All of our breast cancer lawyers use contingency fee
arrangements to represent their clients - this means that if your lawyer doesn't achieve settlement then he doesn't get paid. You will be advised at an early stage whether you have a reasonable claim and what steps you should take to protect your legal rights. If you believe that you have been the victim of medical malpractice as a result of misdiagnosed or late diagnosed breast cancer just call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices and a medical malpractice lawyer will telephone to discuss your claim at no cost to you and without further obligation.
Breast cancer medical malpractice settlements are more prevalent than compensation awarded for clinical negligence for any other disease or illness. Notwithstanding negative results after a mammogram, pre-existng cancer may still go undetected for months and this particularly affects younger women whose mammary tissue is often too dense for reliable test results. Doctors may also rely too heavily on a woman's age as a predicting factor and as the condition is more often associated with older women they may not take a younger woman's complaints seriously enough.Breast cancer medical malpractice can include misdiagnosis, failure to treat, improper treatment, delay in treatment, failure to perform appropriate follow-up or prescription errors and describes any treatment, lack of treatment or other departure from accepted standards of medical care, health care or safety on the part of a health care provider which causes harm to a patient.
More than one in ten women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during their lifetime. This illness often responds well to treatment and early detection is the key factor to higher survival rates. Treatment for this condition including chemotherapy and radiation is designed to kill living cells and early diagnosis may mean less pain and suffering, less financial hardship and a greater chance of survival.
Breast cancer medical malpractice may arise as a result of failure to :-
- identify an obvious lump during breast examination
- arrange mammogram, x-rays, ultrasound, CT scan or MRI scan
- properly identify a tumor by mistaking it for an infection
- diagnose the tumor as malignant
- properly evaluate biopsy or test results
- follow up on test results
- order future tests
- order a biopsy
- follow up with the patient
- determine the cause of nipple discharge
- consider a history of sharp pain in breast
- recognize common symptoms
- perform a breast examination (during a physical examination or while treating a patient for other reasons) which would have identified a clinically obvious tumor
Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Facts
Breast cancer is a common cancer, particularly in women. It is found that 1 out of every 8 women in Canada will develop breast cancer (12 percent) at some point in their lives. This means that more than 20,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed each year along with 5,000 new cases of in situ (non-invasive) breast cancer. Only about 200 men will be diagnosed each year as only about 1 percent of all breast cancer patients are men. Breast cancer rates are decreasing by about two percent per year, possibly because fewer and fewer women are prescribed hormone replacement therapy in menopause.
Of the above numbers, almost 4,000 women die each year from breast cancer. The rates of death from breast cancer have also been decreasing, felt to be the result of better treatment for the disease and increased awareness of breast cancer screening. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, behind lung cancer. About one in four cancers in women are breast cancer. White women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer but less likely to die from the disease than black women. Black women have a history of more aggressive cancers and more metastases.
The risk of breast cancer in women doubles if she has a mother, sister or daughter with the disease. There is clearly a family history component to breast cancer although it is important to recognize that 70-80 percent of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. There are certain tumor markers (BRCA1 and BRCA2) that predispose a woman to have breast cancer at a greater rate than women who do not have the tumor markers on their breast cells. About one in ten breast cancers are related to BRCA2 mutations and fewer than that are related to BRCA2 mutations. The greatest risk factors for breast cancer are female gender and increasing age. Most cases of breast cancer occur in women older than age 50.
Breast cancer is diagnosed usually by mammogram although a woman can feel a breast lump and see her doctor for it. A doctor can examine the breasts and can detect a lump in the breast consistent with breast cancer. In inflammatory breast cancer, the cancer looks like a breast infection, with a swollen, red and tender breast along with dimpling of the skin and swollen lymph nodes. Inflammatory breast cancer is easily misdiagnosed because of its appearance being so similar to a breast infection. Because breast infections are uncommon in non-nursing older women, the diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer should be entertained any time there is breast tenderness and redness.
A mammogram primarily looks for calcium deposits in the breast but can just show a lump. An ultrasound can determine whether or not the lump is a cyst or solid and, if fluid is aspirated from the lump, it can be looked at under the microscope to see if cancer cells are present. An MRI of the breast can also be done to look at the possibility of breast cancer. If a lump or cancerous suspicion is found, the area is biopsied. A needle biopsy can be done to show cancer cells or an Excisional biopsy can be done, which removes the tumor in situ and examines portions of it under the microscope. Studies are now done to find out if the cancer is estrogen or progesterone receptor positive and if the cancer is HER receptor positive. There are new medications that can slow the growth of cancer cells by blocking the estrogen, progesterone or HER receptors.
The treatment of breast cancer includes removing the tumor, doing chemotherapy and/or radiation, and using hormonal treatments to block the growth of the tumor. There are biological treatments for breast cancer, some of which are currently in the research stage.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is fortunately fairly rare. It is a type of breast cancer that differs from regular breast cancer because it has no distinct lump. The breast shows other symptoms that don't look like breast cancer at all. It is called inflammatory breast cancer because the breast is red and inflamed. It looks like an infection or injury to the breast but is actually a problem occurring because breast cancer cells infiltrate the lymph tissue just between the skin. The lymph channels become blocked with cancer cells, thickening the skin and causing dimpling of the skin. The diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer or IBC is sometimes delayed because of its unusual appearance.
Inflammatory breast cancer is different from regular breast cancer. It is more aggressive and doesn't involve lumps in the breast. It is more common in young women and in African American women. The aggressive nature of the disease means that it is usually metastatic at the time of first diagnosis. This means the rate of death in inflammatory breast cancer is higher than with other forms of breast cancer.
The main signs of inflammatory breast cancer include swelling diffusely of the breast, breast itching, redness or pink colour of the breast, nipple retraction, dimpling of the skin so that it has the texture like an orange, warmth of the breast and breast pain. These are symptoms that are so similar to mastitis that it is hard to tell the difference. The lymph glands are swollen under the armpits and sometimes in the area of the clavicles.
During a breast exam, a lump is not often felt so the diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer is difficult. A mammogram may not show evidence of breast cancer. The thickening of the breast may show up on mammogram, however. The best way to diagnose inflammatory bowel cancer is through a careful biopsy of the inflamed area of the breast. The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can come on very quickly so rapid medical response is necessary to prevent metastases. In women who are breastfeeding, inflammatory breast cancer can show up and can mimic a breast infection like mastitis. This is especially dangerous because the diagnosis is often extremely delayed.
In order to detect inflammatory breast cancer, you should still have annual breast mammograms and a mammogram if you have any symptoms of IBC. If you are in your 20s or 30s, you need to have clinical breast exams every three years and with any changes in the breast. Breast self exam is optional when you are young. Women who are at high risk for breast cancer should consider having MRI exams along with a mammogram each year. This is if your risk is higher than 20 percent over your lifetime. The first test should always be the mammogram. An ultrasound can show areas appropriate for biopsy and will detect any lumps noted. An MRI, however, is the most sensitive imaging test for inflammatory bowel cancer. Some doctors perform a PET scan that can find "hot spots" of increased metabolic activity in the breast cancer and in the lymph nodes.
The biopsy of inflammatory breast cancer is the most important test. It can be done of the inflamed area of the breast and the lymph nodes which are likely involved. It can be done under local anaesthesia or general anaesthesia, depending on the extent of the biopsy. A large core biopsy can be done which can show the depth of the cancer and the extent of the cancer. A needle biopsy can also be done with ultrasound guidance.
The five year survival rate isn't as good for inflammatory breast cancer as it is for other forms of breast cancer. The five year survival rate is the percentage of people alive with the disease after five years. The five year survival rate for IBC is about 40 percent, which is in comparison to 87 percent with regular types of breast cancer. The more metastatic the disease is at the time of diagnosis, the more likely you are to die from the disease.
The treatment of inflammatory breast cancer involves chemotherapy as a first option. Chemotherapy involves several different combinations of chemotherapeutic agents and your doctor will decide which is best for you. Radiation is also used for inflammatory breast cancer. After chemotherapy, the breast is removed in its entirety, along with lymph nodes in the clavicular and armpit area. Targeted drug therapy with medications like Herceptin is used for cancers that are HER-2 positive. This is a cancer marker that is hereditary in some women.
Medical Negligence Lawyer
Thousands of Canadian citizens are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. The key to survival is early diagnosis and treatment which is often delayed due to misdiagnosis or misinterpreted test results. breast cancer misdiagnosis is extremely common and failure by a healthcare practitioner that amounts to negligence is a matter of medical malpractice and entitles the victim to claim financial recompense for pain and suffering or the loss of opportunity for a cure. Our specialist medical malpractice lawyers deal with breast cancer clinical negligence cases against doctors, nurses, technicians and other healthcare providers working in medical practices, clinics, hospitals and all other places where health care is dispensed. If you would like advice about breast cancer misdiagnosis just contact our offices and a specialist medical malpractice lawyer with call to discuss your potential compensation claim without charge and without further obligation. Our medical malpractice lawyers will give you their opinion on the liability of the negligent healthcare provider and will estimate the amount of the likely award of damages there and then.
LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here