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Breast cancer misdiagnosis can have fatal consequences

When facing any type of medical disorder, disease or condition; early diagnosis and intervention is key to ensuring for the best possible outcome. This is especially true in the case of cancer where a patient’s prognosis and treatment options often depend on how far the cancer has progressed.

According to the American Cancer Society, each year nearly 300,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with some form of breast cancer. Nearly 40,000 die each year from the disease, making breast cancer one of most common and deadly forms of all cancers. However, when diagnosed early, most breast cancers are treatable either through surgery or a combination of cancer treatments and medications.

Traditionally, women are most impacted by breast cancer and women over the age of 40 are often advised to undergo regular mammograms which are commonly used to detect tumors or abnormalities in breast tissue. Women who have had a relative that has been diagnosed with breast cancer are at an increased risk of developing the disease and should be extra vigilant in undergoing screening and testing.

In some cases, even women who undergo regular mammograms may develop breast cancer that goes undiagnosed. Doctors or technicians that are trained to read test results may miss certain clues or have varying opinions of what does and not constitute an abnormal test. For women, especially those who have a genetic link to breast cancer, conducting self breast exams and reporting any abnormalities is important.

Women or men who have suffered as a result of a breast cancer misdiagnosis may choose to take legal action. In some cases, doctors or medical technicians may have failed to properly review test results or conduct necessary follow-up tests.

Source: Courier Journal, “Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis,” Thomas McCutcheon, Oct. 22, 2013

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