Cancer is a word that profoundly impacts people. It is no surprise that a female patient may think it is very reassuring if she hears her doctor tell her that she merely has fibrocystic breast changes and that there is no need to be concerned about the lump in her breast. Yet this reassurance ought to only negative results from proper diagnostic tests to rule out the likelihood of breast cancer. Otherwise, the patient may not discover she has breast cancer until it is too late. If a doctor concludes that a lump in a female patient’s breast is simply a noncancerous cyst and it afterward turns out to be breast cancer, the woman might have a medical malpractice case against that physician.
Roughly some eighty percent of breast associated changes are from benign causes. Moreover, most new breast cancer cases happen in women who are older than fifty. It is therefore not surprising that a number of doctors will diagnose a lump found in the breast, especially with a younger patient, as caused by a cyst and not from breast cancer. The odds are in favor of such a diagnosis.
When it comes to breast cancer early diagnosis is key. It can make the difference between life and death. Diagnosed before it has a chance to spread, the likelihood is that with correct treatment the woman will survive the cancer. Indeed with early diagnosis and treatment the likelihood of survival is usually above 80% and even as high as 97%. If the cancer spreads, however, the odds decrease considerably.
If the breast cancer is not detected until it gets to a stage III (generally regarding bigger cancerous masses in the breast or a spread of the cancer to lymph nodes), the 5-year survival rate falls to roughly 54%. For stage IV (usually associated with a cancerous mass that is larger that five cm or the spread of the cancer to the bone or other organs, such as the lungs), the 5-year survival rate is around 20%.
It is predicted that one in eight females will have breast cancer in the course of their lifetime. It is the second most often diagnosed cancer in females. Over one hundred ninety thousand females are expected to be newly diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year. Additionally over forty nine thousand women are predicted to pass away of breast cancer this year. Given that women whose breast cancer is detected and treated while still in the early stages have a greater than eighty percent likelihood of surviving the cancer for over 5 years after diagnosis, a question that should be asked is how many of those forty thousand or more women who will pass away of this disease this year would otherwise survive if their cancer had been detected early.
By conducting a clinical breast examination a doctor simply cannot accurately differentiate between a benign cyst and a cancerous growth. For this reason a physician should normally suggest that diagnostic testing be performed immediately if a lump is found in the breast of a female patient. Examples of diagnostic tests can include an imaging study such as a mammogram or an ultrasound, or a sampling, such as by biopsy or aspiration. Each test has the potential for a false negative so it may be important to do more than one test before cancer can be eliminated as the cause of the lump.
In the event that a physician diagnoses a lump in a woman’s breast as only a benign fibroid cyst after only performing a clinical breast examination, that physician puts the woman in danger of not learning she has breast cancer until it metastasizes. The failure to conduct appropriate diagnostic testing, like an imaging study such as a mammogram or ultrasound, or a sampling, such as a biopsy or aspiration, may constitute a departure from the accepted standard of medical care and might bring about a medical malpractice case.