New Jersey Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorneys
Representing Victims of Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer and Misdiagnosis Across New Jersey
While not the most prevalent cancer in the general population, breast cancer develops in nearly 13% of women, making it the top cancer diagnosis among women. After lung cancer, it is the deadliest cancer for females. Sadly, hundreds of thousands of women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. Out of those, tens of thousands lose their lives to this disease. In the majority of breast cancer cases, medical malpractice never occurs. In other cases, a doctor may fail to diagnose a tumor for a month or so, but that lost month does not make a significant difference in the outcome. In some cases, however, failure to diagnose and treat breast cancer on time has tragic consequences. Patients may have to undergo far more invasive, painful and expensive courses of treatment than they would otherwise have needed. Ultimately, breast cancer can be successfully treated if caught early and potentially deadly if not.
At Fronzuto Law Group, Attorneys at Law, we advocate for individuals and families throughout the area who have been affected by breast cancer misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose. With decades of experience and a record of multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements, you can count on us to effectively represent your interests when you or a loved one has suffered the traumatic effects of cancer being misdiagnosed or another form of medical malpractice. We advise you compassionately while also protecting your interests aggressively against your opponents and seeking optimal damages. Please schedule a free initial consultation with our New Jersey breast cancer misdiagnosis lawyers today by calling 973-435-4551 (toll free at 888-409-0816). You may also contact our law firm online.
Defining Breast Cancer and How it Works
Uncontrolled cell growth due to abnormal genetic material defines cancer. Normally, cells die and are replaced by new cells, so that there is an organized cell replacement pattern. Cancer disrupts that order by unregulated cell growth, so that cells with mutations keep replicating themselves without a turn off switch and this leads to tumors. Harmless tumors that do not spread are termed benign, while cancerous tumors are malignant, meaning they spread throughout the body. Malignant tumors that originate in the breast or breast tissue are called breast cancer. The tumor may originate in the fibrous tissue of the breast or in other components of the breast, such as the milk ducts or glands. If left untreated, the cancer can spread to nearby tissue and organs, such as the lymph nodes, which are in the armpits but also in other parts of the body. The lymphatic system provides a pathway for the cancer to spread elsewhere.
What Causes Breast Cancer
Most breast cancer cases occur in women who have no immediate family members who have had it, while between 5 and 10% can attribute the primary cause to inherited defects in the BRCA genes. Most breast cancer is found in women over 50. Although a small percentage of breast cancers are passed down from family members, the majority of breast cancer comes from living long enough for the mutations to occur from simply getting older and environmental factors. Generally, eating well, exercising, sleeping enough, and maintaining stress at acceptable levels may help combat the onset of breast cancer but there is no guarantee of avoiding it. Risk factors include age, sex (women), and lifestyle. For example, if you are overweight, smoke, drink, have dense breasts, and lead a sedentary life, you may be more at risk for breast cancer.
Certainly, family and personal history matter also, including whether you or someone in your family had breast or ovarian cancer, or if you had radiation to the upper body. Genetic makeup, prior pregnancies, and how old you were when you began menstruating may factor in, as well as whether you underwent hormone replacement therapy during menopause. Exposure to chemicals in daily products, such as cosmetics, sunscreen, water, and foods may contribute to developing breast cancer, in addition to minimal levels of vitamin D and excessive levels of night light. Women who were given DES, a drug to prevent miscarriage, are more susceptible to breast cancer too. Ultimately, multiple risk factors increase the likelihood of developing cancer, which has several symptoms to beware of and report to your doctor.
Signs of Breast Cancer in Women
Most people know that a lump in the breast should be checked out by a doctor. The lump can be benign as cysts are not uncommon, but lumps in the breast or nearby areas, swollen breast or breasts, bleeding nipples, dimpled breasts, or irritated, dry, and painful nipples may all be signs of breast cancer. Pain anywhere in the breast is cause for a check-in with the doctor. Problematically, breast cancer symptoms appear a lot like other conditions, such as breast infections. Painful or sore breasts may occur with hormonal shifts, and the shape and size of breasts may change throughout a woman’s lifetime. Weight gain, pregnancy, and menstruation often cause breasts to change, and lumps may appear due to fibrous breast tissue aggravated by hormones or excessive caffeine. Since it can be difficult to pinpoint the source of your breast changes without medical help, getting scheduled screening tests for breast cancer, such as mammograms or MRI’s, especially for women over 50, is important, as well as regular gynecological visits for physical examinations of the breasts and reproductive organs. Regular self-examination of the breasts may also help detect lumps and breast changes early.
Treatments & Therapies after Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Depending on the size, location, and stage of the cancer, treatment and options vary. Stages range from 0 to 4, with 4 being the most advanced stage of cancer spread. Early diagnosis is important so that treatment is more effective. Treatment options are not a one-size-fits-all thing, with significant variability based on the patient’s individual circumstances. For instance, some may need surgery to remove the cancerous tumor, while others require chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination thereof. Some breast cancer survivors may turn to hormone and biological therapies to minimize or eradicate the cancer or alleviate treatment side effects. However, the best treatment is prevention.
Physicians who know their patient’s family history should be aware of BRCA genetic changes inherited from a family member with breast cancer now or in the past. With this information, a doctor can approach an older patient with medication options to control estrogen changes in the body or recommend surgery to prevent breast cancer, potentially involving removing the breasts, ovaries, or fallopian tubes if cancers affecting those areas run in the family. Overall, the combination of regular screening and physical exams, self-examination, reducing lifestyle and environmental risks, and reporting your family history of cancer and any symptoms to your doctor are powerful defenses to the disease.
Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis & Delayed Diagnosis
It is hard to believe, but physicians are often sued for negligent breast cancer handling, despite there being plenty of standard diagnostic and treatment options for an early diagnosis and effective treatment. Medical malpractice can run the gamut in breast cancer-related cases, but there are some common examples. On their part, doctors can inform patients about screening and tests results for breast cancer, which are unfortunately not 100% reliable. Sometimes, tests yield false positives for cancer, which leads to high anxiety in patients and a battery of follow up tests, which can be costly in terms of time, discomfort, and money. On the other hand, tests can yield false negatives, which is even more concerning given the delay in diagnosis and treatment. Surprisingly, more radiologists are sued in connection with breast cancer misdiagnosis than are any other type of medical professionals. Careless or poorly trained radiologists can easily fail to notice or fail to correctly interpret abnormalities on MRIs, ultrasounds or mammograms. Moreover, tests sometimes reveal cancers that would not have been discovered otherwise but would not have caused a patient serious trouble if left alone. In some cases, surgery for mastectomy or radiation results from unnecessary diagnosis and over treatment.
In addition, delayed diagnosis from communication or professional errors is the culprit in many malpractice actions involving breast cancer. Doctors who disregard lumps in younger, pregnant, or lactating women because they are not the typical profile of a breast cancer patient can cause delays in diagnosis with disastrous results. Likewise, physicians may receive accurate imaging results but fail to act upon them. Physicians may also fail to incorporate mammogram results and other test results into the overall clinical picture. In the same vein, failure to match up physical exam results with mammograms showing possible cancer, or miscommunication between healthcare professionals about a woman’s symptoms, may also lead to a delayed diagnosis. Further, failing to follow up after screening if a test comes back abnormal, can prove highly detrimental. Doctors have the responsibility to order appropriate follow-up tests which may include additional diagnostic mammograms, biopsies, spot views or ultrasounds.
Treatment errors are also the cause of many breast cancer negligence claims. And the list goes on, including errors and omissions such as: not consulting with or referring a patient to an oncologist after test results are received, neglecting to take a complete family history, or failing to counsel a high-risk patient about cancer risks and screenings available. Those who fail to advise older patients about breast cancer risks, especially if family history includes breast cancer, may be liable for malpractice when cancer goes undiagnosed or delayed in being diagnosed. These and many more types of negligent conduct may all be the source of breast cancer malpractice lawsuits, after victims are subjected to prolonged and painful treatment or untimely death. Physicians, hospitals, and other medical professionals and facilities who fail breast cancer patients through substandard practices, may find themselves defendants in these lawsuits.
Contact our Passaic County NJ Breast Cancer Negligence Lawyers for Help
Do you believe you or someone you love was the victim of breast cancer misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose in New Jersey? No one should suffer needlessly from preventable errors and those injured by negligence with breast cancer can pursue just compensation. Unfortunately, in some cases of misdiagnosed or untreated breast cancer, the patient may not be alive to benefit from a compensatory award. However, those whom they left behind may be compensated for the tragedy of losing a loved one and all that their life had to offer. Wrongful death awards can compensate a bereaved spouse, child, or family member for lost income, comfort, and companionship. Bearing this in mind, it is highly advisable to speak to a medical malpractice attorney who has experience with cancer misdiagnosis, missed diagnoses, and improper treatment claims if you have been harmed by a healthcare professional’s mishandling of your breast cancer or your loved ones’ losses. Do not hesitate to contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation: 973-435-4551 (toll free at 888-409-0816).