What Is Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Getting cancer is many people’s worst nightmare, but for some, the misery is compounded by errors in treatment. This might mean delays in diagnosis allowing their tumour to spread, or even a misdiagnosis of breast cancer altogether. If you feel like you have been harmed by the failings of a medical expert, our no win no fee cancer misdiagnosis lawyers can offer you a free phone chat to let you know what your options might be. Simply call us on 01204 521133, fill in one of our claims forms, or leave us a message on live chat to arrange a call-back.
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Causes of Breast Cancer
There is still no certain evidence, identifying the cause of breast cancer – there are a full range of risk factors, which impact each case. Contingents such as lifestyle, and diet, have been linked to women who contract the disease, but at the same time, such preventions are no guarantee that cancer will develop. There are however, several risk factors that can impact the likely hood of someone developing the cancer. These risk factors are:
Age– As you get older, the risk of developing breast cancer increases. Breast Cancer is most common among women over the age of 50, particularly those who have gone through menopause. Considering breast cancer misdiagnosis, doctors should consider this increased risk, ensuring that breast cancer is diagnosed as quickly as possible.
Family History– If you have close relatives that have suffered from breast cancer, this increases the risk of you also developing it. Although most cases of breast cancer aren’t hereditary, and can be coincidental, there are particular genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 that can increase the risk, which can be passed down from parent to child. Doctors should be careful to record a full family history for female patients, helping to avoid the incidence of breast cancer mis-diagnosis.
Previous Breast Cancer Diagnosis– If you have previously suffered with breast cancer, unfortunately, there is a high risk of you developing it again, either in the same, or opposite breast. This is because of cell changes occur within the breast ducts, causing unexpectedly mutations. Should you have previously survived breast cancer, it is important that any breast lumps are thoroughly checked. Your Doctor should be aware of the risks posed to you, avoiding the incidence of breast cancer mis-diagnosis.
Oestrogen Exposure– It is believed, that oestrogen can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells, placing you at risk if you have been exposed to high levels of the hormone. For, is if you started your period at a younger age than average, or started the menopause at a later age, you will have been exposed to oestrogen over a longer period of time. Taking into account your medical history, your Doctor should understand these factors, mitigating the risk of breast cancer misdiagnosis.
Radiation– Certain medical procedures, such as X-rays, and CT scans, may increase your chances of developing cancer. It is thought that radiation stimulates breast cancer cells, and encourages growth. Radiotherapy targeted in your chest, has been heavily linked to conditions such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If you have been exposed to radiation, this should alert your doctor to the risks posed to you, decreasing the chances of a breast cancer misdiagnosis.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The most common symptom associated with breast cancer, is the discovery of a lump. Any lumps found are not necessarily cancerous, and they can often be benign. This symptom alone should not cause too much concern, despite this, you should always consult your GP, who should investigate further.
Suffering from any of the following symptoms should raise concerns:
- A lump or thickened tissue in a breast
- A change in shape of the breast
- Discharge from the nipple
- Blood from the nipple
- A lump or swelling in the armpits
- Dimpling on the skin of the breast
- A rash on or around your nipple
- A change in the appearance of the nipple (it may become inverted)
- Pain in the breast or armpit
The presence of the above symptoms should raise alarm bells, and visiting a GP for investigatory tests should be prioritised; the completion of which should avoid an incident of breast cancer misdiagnosis.
Diagnosing Breast Cancer
If you notice any unusual symptoms around your breasts, it is extremely important that visit your GP for a consultation.
Your GP will examine you, making an assessment as to whether or not your symptoms require further examination, referring you to a specialist cancer unit. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued very strict guidance about referring patients to specialists, and if you present a number of specific symptoms you may require an urgent referral.
If your GP finds a suspicious abnormality you will undertake one, or several, of the following procedures:
Mammogram and Breast Ultrasound- A mammogram will produce an x-ray of the breasts, detecting any lumps or abnormalities. As the breast tissue in people under 35 is denser than that of a woman over this age, they may also require an ultrasound scan. An ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves, producing an image of the breast interior. These methods can help determine if the lump is solid, or contains liquid, which determines if the lump is potentially cancerous, or something less serious.
Biopsy- If a mammogram, or ultrasound, identifies that the lump in your breast could potentially be cancerous, you will be sent for a biopsy. This involves taking a sample of tissue cells from your breast, and testing them more thoroughly. The lymph nodes in the armpit may also be tested, confirming whether or not they are also affected.
If the diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, you will need to be sent for further tests. These will indicate which stage the cancer has developed to, determining which course of treatment will be best. These will include a variety of scans and x-rays, including a CT scan, chest x-rays, hormone receptor tests, and in very developed cases a bone scan, ensuring that the cancer hasn’t spread to the bones.
Completing extensive tests is crucial in providing an accurate diagnosis, avoiding a situation where breast cancer misdiagnosis occurs.
Treating Breast Cancer
A patient suffering from breast cancer requires care from a multidisciplinary team. This team of specialists work together, ensuring a combined course of treatment is given, suited to each individual.
This team will include:
- A specialist cancer surgeon
- An oncologist
- A radiologist
- A pathologist
- A radiographer
- A reconstructive surgeon
- A specialist cancer nurse
- A physiotherapist (in some cases)
- A dietician (in some cases)
- An occupational therapist (in some cases)
- Clinical psychologist (in some cases)
Depending on factors such as the stage of the cancer, the course of treatment you receive will be one of, or a combination of, the following procedures:
- Surgery (removing the cancerous tumour, or removing the breast)
- Hormone therapy
- Biological therapy (targeted therapy)
Prognosis for Breast Cancer
The general prognosis of breast cancer depends on the severity of the tumour. Detecting cancer early gives you the best chances of recovery, and treatment can often be a relatively quick process. If the cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, when it has begun to spread, a more powerful course of treatment will be required; unfortunately, such treatments often have undesirable side effects, prolonging the suffering of the patient.
The survival rate of cancer is high at 79%, with most cases being caught early, at their most treatable stages. Many women can go on to lead unaffected lives, resuming life as normal. In more severe cases, where a mastectomy (removal of one or both of the breasts) has taken place, surgical procedures to cosmetically reconstruct the breasts can be undertaken, or specialist bras can be worn.
Unfortunately, around one in ten patients treated for breast cancer will have a recurrence of cancer within 12 years of having the initial lumpectomy, and radiation therapy, requiring further treatment.
How Do I Know If I Have a Claim?
If you feel the standard of care provided by any medical professional was below expectations, then you may be eligible to make a claim for clinical negligence compensation. A lack of diagnosis, or a misdiagnosis of breast cancer, can have a severe impact on your chances of recovery.
You may be entitled to make a claim if your GP failed to recognise the symptoms of breast cancer, causing a delay to treatment. A thorough examination could have resulted in a diagnosis for breast cancer, reducing the suffering the patient was subjected to.
Sometimes a delay in diagnosis or the complete misdiagnosis of breast cancer can allow the cancer to spread, become worse and spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones. Breast cancer misdiagnosis can cause significant and unnecessary suffering, with the potential to be fatal.
Our solicitors can provide expert claim advice in a FREE consultation if you are unsure; simply call 01204 521 133.
How Much Will I Get?
Everyon’e’s claim is entirely different, so it is difficult to advise accurately. However, our Medical Negligence Compensation Calculator may provide a rough estimate of what you may receive. These estimates are based on your injuries and also other factors, such as psychological problems and missed time at work.
‘No Win No Fee’
At Asons Solicitors, we have taken the risk out of making a claim for all of our clients, which is why over 98% of our claims are No Win No Fee. This way, we can allow everyone access to justice, regardless of their financial position. If you choose to make a claim with us, there are no upfront fees or unexpected costs, as we take on the risk for you.
More on ‘No Win, No Fee’ here.
Why Should I Make a Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim?
If you have been misdiagnosed with breast cancer, through medical negligence, then you are more than entitled to apply for misdiagnosis compensation. This delay in diagnosing cancer may have affected your life in a very negative way, that need not have happened, had a diagnosis been made in a timely manner. Making a claim for breast cancer misdiagnosis can help you to regain your quality of life; the money can contribute towards any loss of earnings, potential breast reconstruction surgery, or any health care costs that may have arisen during treatment etc. Patients that have been misdiagnosed should not feel apprehensive about making medical negligence claim, as doctors have a duty of care to their patients, failing to fulfil this can lead to devastating consequences, and the effects on the patient deserve to be compensated.
Breast Cancer Resources
Our guide, How Will A Cancer Misdiagnosis Change Your Life? was written to provide information and guidance on how to deal with a cancer misdiagnosis, as well as highlighting the occurrence rates of these errors due to an overworked NHS.
We have also put together a factsheet on cancer misdiagnosis:
What do I do next?
If you or a loved one have suffered a breast cancer misdiagnosis due to clinical negligence, then you should contact us directly for further information and advice about your potential breast cancer misdiagnosis compensation claim.
At Asons, we have an experienced team of solicitors, who are experts in dealing with cases of breast cancer misdiagnosis, and clinical negligence. They will be able to build you a strong case, offering you support in claiming damages for the sub-standard care you have suffered.
There are time limits in place for claims such as these, so it is important that you contact us as soon as possible to discuss your claim.