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Delayed Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer can be devastating. It is estimated that one in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, making prompt treatment incredibly important.

A delayed breast cancer diagnosis may occur for a number of reasons. A recent study has shown that women with breast implants have a 26 percent higher risk of being diagnosed at a later stage of cancer. This is most likely because implants cast a shadow on mammograms, making the scans difficult to read.

Another recent set of data suggests that race and ethnicity might also affect diagnosis. According to these findings, Hispanic and black women with government or private insurance waited more than twice as long for a diagnosis than white women with the same insurance. Worse, uninsured black women waited twice as long for a diagnosis as black women who had private insurance.

Delayed diagnosis may also be a factor in medical negligence. In one recent case, a woman’s breast cancer diagnosis was delayed by two years. After the patient complained of a breast lump, her physician ordered a mammogram, but failed to note the complaint. The radiologist read the mammogram — performed four months later — as “normal,” despite the fact that the same report noted a “very dense stromal pattern,” which is known to reduce the ability to detect cancer. No follow-up ultrasound was recommended.

When the patient returned to her gynecologist nine months later with more complaints of a breast lump, the doctor ordered another mammogram and surgical consult. These tests revealed breast cancer that had metastasized to the spinal region. After it was finally discovered that the woman had a history of breast cancer in her family, she sued her radiologist and received a settlement of more than $1 million.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a delayed breast cancer diagnosis from medical malpractice or discrimination, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options.