Breast Cancer is the leading killer of women in the United States, affecting 180,000 annually. This averages out to one in every eight women. Additionally, for every one hundred women diagnosed with breast cancer, one man is also diagnosed with it. The mortality rate of women with breast cancer is roughly 40,000 per year.
Unlike other illnesses, breast cancer is not obvious to detect to the average person. It is suggested that women over the age of forty have yearly mammograms and do self examinations to look for lumps or abnormalities which may be cancerous. If there is a lump found, most doctors request a biopsy of the tissue, and also ultrasounds to determine if the lump is benign or malignant cancer.
Breast cancer can begin in several areas of the breast including the lobules, the ducts, and also in the tissue. The process of diagnosis can take many weeks and involve a myriad of different tests. However, if breast lumps are not promptly evaluated and a breast cancer is allowed to remain in the breast untreated for a prolonged period of time, the lump slowly enlarges cancer cells will eventually separate and spread through blood and lymph vessels to lymph nodes. This often occurs first in the armpit and then to distant organs (metastasis). If the cancer spreads, treatment becomes more extensive and the chance of survival decreases.
If a doctor or radiologist does not follow up correctly, or fails to diagnose the abnormality as cancer, it could be detrimental to the patient. If such a failure results in an advanced stage of cancer, the doctor or radiologist may be guilty of medical malpractice. Some questions to ask are:
- Did the doctor dismiss the lump saying it was simply “plugged milk ducts”?
- Did the doctor perform the necessary tests to diagnose and treat for breast cancer?
- Would the end result have been different had the diagnosis been made sooner, or at the initial finding of the abnormality?
It is not uncommon to seek a second opinion from other health care providers when dealing with a diagnosis of breast cancer. It may be overwhelming and time consuming, but could be beneficial in finding more details, as well as finding other options for treatment that were not discussed with the initial doctor. With the advances in medicine in recent years, many life saving treatments against breast cancer are developing. In past years when it seemed radiation, chemotherapy or death were the only solutions, there are now surgeries, hormonal therapies, and targeted therapies to compliment the varying forms of cancer. Each different form of breast cancer requires a different form of treatment.
After the initial shock of cancer diagnosis, and going through the various treatments, it is possible to maintain life and eventually return to work and previous activities. It is common for breast cancer patients to take a leave of absence from work while going through treatment. Short term and Long term disability leave is an option. Short term disability usually lasts between 3 to 6 months. Long term disability is used when short term expires and is approved by your employer or the federal government, for an indefinite amount of time. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows you up to 12 weeks unpaid leave to recover from a serious health condition while allowing you to keep benefits and maintain your position at your company.
If you feel that you or a loved one has suffered a loss or been harmed as a result of your diagnosis and/or treatment of breast cancer, please contact the lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm to determine if you have a case. Remember, that there is never a fee unless a recovery is made for you.