What Is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is cancer developing in the cells of the breasts. Both women and men can get breast cancer. In women, breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer. (1)

“About 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women,” according to the American Cancer Society. It adds, “About 43,250 women will die from breast cancer.” (2)

Types of Breast Cancer

The breast is made up of different types of cells and tissues. Depending on where the cancer forms, you can be diagnosed with different types of breast cancer: (3)

  • Angiosarcoma: This type of cancer forms in the lining of blood and lymph vessels. It can also form in the skin on your breast. (4)
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): DCIS means abnormal cells have formed inside a milk duct in the breast. “DCIS is considered the earliest form of breast cancer.” (5)
  • Inflammatory breast cancer: This type of breast cancer develops quickly. The affected breast appears red and feels swollen and tender. “Inflammatory breast cancer is considered a locally advanced cancer.” (6)
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma: This cancer forms in the milk-producing glands of the breast. These cancer cells have broken out of the lobule where they originated. (7)
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC): IDC is also called infiltrating ductal carcinoma. This is the most common, with cancerous cells forming in the breast ducts. Roughly 80% are this type. (8)
  • Paget’s disease: Women over 50 are more likely to develop this type of cancer. Most people with this condition also have either underlying ductal breast cancer or invasive breast cancer. (9)

New York Breast Cancer Statistics

“Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in New York State. Each year in New York, over 16,400 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and about 2,500 women die from the disease. It is estimated that one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her life.” (10)

Men get breast cancer also, but it is exceptionally rare. Approximately 160 men in New York State are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. (11)

Most recent data from New York State’s Department of Health indicate in 2018, 16,892 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Of these, 2,576 women died from the disease. (12)

If you have suffered from a breast cancer misdiagnosis, contact us for a free case evaluation.

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What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

A lump is one common sign of potential breast cancer. Other signs and symptoms include: (13) (14) (15)

  • A thickened area of the breast feeling different from surrounding tissue.
  • Change in the size, shape, or appearance of a breast.
  • Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling.
  • A newly inverted nipple.
  • Peeling, scaling, crusting, or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin.
  • Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange.
  • Bloody nipple discharge.
  • Red, swollen, tender breast.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes under your arm.

How Common Is a Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis?

Approximately 1.6 million breast biopsies are performed in the United States each year. Both false positives and false negatives are possible, leaving room for misdiagnosis of the cancer. According to one study, in only about 75% of the time did one individual pathologist agree with a panel of experts. (16)

Agreement about the diagnosis happened to be the highest when the pathologist and the panel of experts concluded the sample showed “invasive carcinoma.” (17)

What Qualifies as a Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis?

“Mammograms aren’t perfect.” In fact, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mammograms reveal cancer 80% of the time. This means 20 out of every 100 get missed. Theses misses are leading more and more patients to file lawsuits “when lesions are found after earlier mammograms failed to detect them.” (18)

Breast cancer can be misdiagnosed due to:

  • Ineffective palpation by a medical professional.
  • Misread mammogram.
  • False-negative mammogram appearing normal, but cancer is in the breast. (19)

Injuries Associated with a Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis

The bottom line is if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, the sooner you seek treatment, the better. (20)

At least one study has suggested “extended treatment delay (more than 90 days postdiagnosis) resulted in worse survival, in patients with invasive nonmetastatic and metastatic breast cancer. … Delayed adjuvant therapy (more than 90 days postsurgery) resulted in worse survival in patients with invasive nonmetastatic breast cancer who had surgery less than or equal to 90 days postdiagnosis.” (21)

A misdiagnosis typically means a delayed diagnosis. And the longer it takes to diagnose your breast cancer, the long it takes to start your treatment.

Any delay in treatment adds to the risk of your cancer proceeding to a more advanced stage. This can cause you more pain and suffering. Have a later stage of cancer can result in the need for more expensive treatments, additional treatments, and a less positive future outcome.

How to Determine Who Is at Fault

Medical professionals could be held responsible for your injury if there is evidence they acted negligently. This includes the technician who performed your mammogram, or the radiologist who read its results.

In the medical profession, all health care professionals are expected to provide a specific standard of care. When medical professionals depart from the standard of care, or are negligent, they should be held accountable. (22)

If a radiologist made an error leading to a delay in your treatment and you suffered further injury, you can sue for malpractice. You must prove an error caused a delay in their diagnosing you correctly, and the delay harmed your health. (23)

For example, you get a mammogram. You receive the news it showed no signs of cancer. Six months later, you discover you have breast cancer. If the cancer was visible on your mammogram from six months earlier, you may have a case of medical malpractice. (24)

If you have suffered injury due to a breast cancer misdiagnosis, contact us today to understand your legal rights.

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Filing a Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit

You initiate a lawsuit by hiring an experienced, knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney. Your attorney files papers with the court claiming you were harmed. The harm could be caused by your doctor or another medical professional who owed you a duty of care.

Your legal claim states you are “entitled to legal redress. These papers must set out [your] prima facie case: the statement of facts and legal theories that establish that [you have] a legally enforceable claim against the defendant.” (25)

Your attorney must prove the four elements of your lawsuit for medical negligence: (26)

  • Duty — The facts establishing the legal relationship between you and your doctor.
  • Breach — The facts illustrating your doctor breached legal duties implied in the physician-patient relationship.
  • Causation — How your doctor’s breach of duty caused your injuries.
  • Damages — The monetary value of your injuries.

How W&L Can Help

Weitz & Luxenberg is a New York law firm based in Manhattan. Our attorneys have been handling medical malpractice cases, wrongful death, and negligence lawsuits for over 30 years.

Our experienced attorneys can help you consider your legal options. You may be able to seek compensation if your breast cancer was misdiagnosed. Or a loved one died due to a misdiagnosis.

Weitz & Luxenberg has a proven track record. Here are a few examples of our success:

  • $2.35 million settlement – A young woman experiencing ever-worsening symptoms of pancreatitis sought assistance from multiple hospitals. She was misdiagnosed time and again and ultimately died.
  • $2.2 million settlement – A woman underwent a routine tonsillectomy performed by a specialist. She suffered complications, reported to an ER where she was misdiagnosed, and died a short time later.
  • $1.1 million settlement – A 70-year-old man died from complications during treatment for advanced colon cancer. Roughly a year and a half earlier, his doctor failed to inform the patient about his stage 1 colon cancer.
  • $500,000 settlement – A woman nearly died and now lives with an irreparably damaged uterus due to numerous misdiagnoses, botched surgeries, and invasive procedures. If ER doctors had correctly diagnosed and treated her, she would not have been forced to endure months of horrific, sometimes life-threatening, procedures and complications.