Breast cancer is a malignant form of cancer that develops in breast tissue. The most common type of breast cancer begins in the lining of the ducts and is called ductal carcinoma. Another type of breast cancer, called lobular carcinoma, arises in the lobules. The cause of most types of breast cancer is unknown.
Breast cancer has been related to two genes, BRC1 and BRC2. there are also other factors that appear to increase the risk of breast cancer including: obesity, early menarche, and delayed or no child bearing.
Breast cancer occurs in men as well as women, but is much more common in women. Studies show that one in 8 or 9 American women will develop breast cancer at some point in life.
The risk of breast cancer greatly increases after age 30. The average age of women diagnosed with breast cancer is 60 years.
Other factors the appear to increase the risks of breast cancer include having a history of breast cancer in the family; a past medical history involving breast cancer , ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or colon cancer; early menarche (start of menstruation before age 12) and/or late menopause (after age 55); no pregnancies or a first pregnancy after age 30; and radiation exposure.
Breast cancer appears to be more frequently in women whose diet is very high in fat. Older women who are overweight are at greater risk.
Since most of the risk factors cannot be controlled, and call for secondary prevention, early detection, and appropriate treatment early in the disease process. This prevention takes the form of a routine breast self-exam beginning around age 20 and routine mammography after age 40.
Medical Malpractice issues that may arise in Failure To Diagnose Breast Cancer.
Here are the facts of an actual case that resulted in $1.75 million ($2.5 million with interest) award in June 1997.
The patient saw a surgeon for one year with a lump in her breast. The surgeon believed the lump was benign. The surgeon, believing the lump was not cancerous did order tests to identify the mass and did not discover that the mass was cancerous.
In November 1989, the patient made an appointment with the doctor because she was concerned about the lump. In December 1989, the doctor examined the lump and again assured her that the mass was not cancer and scheduled another routine visit in six months.
The patient has a mammogram at the end of December which allegedly was misread.
In April 1990, the patient returned to her doctor because she was concerned about the lump. This time the doctor told her the lump was probably due to her menstrual cycle. A month later she returned to his office, and again he assured her that the lump was not cancer, but that if she would feel better mentally he would biopsy the lump in a month. When the lump was finally biopsied in June 1990 it was found to be cancer.
Soon thereafter the patient underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. She survived for two and a half years before her death in April 1993.
In a court case filed by her estate the jury found that the surgeon was negligent in failing to diagnose her breast cancer. And that this negligence resulted in the patient's pain and suffering and death at the age of 45.
The facts of this case are derived from information reported in "Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly".