Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims
Being told you have breast cancer is a devastating experience – even more so if you feel you have suffered a misdiagnosis, and this has had an impact on how your cancer will progress.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we pride ourselves on giving help and support to you and your family at this most difficult of times. We can help with many issues, such as benefits advice and finding specialist services to help you, as well as getting the compensation you deserve.
Get in touch with us to find out how our team can help you during this traumatic time. Your claim is usually on a no-win, no-fee basis – and most cases do not reach court.
Breast cancer – the facts
One in every eight women suffers with breast cancer in their lifetime. It is mostly diagnosed after the menopause. However, 20% of women are diagnosed under the age of 50, although it is extremely rare under the age of 40. For men, the incidence of breast cancer is far less. In fact, less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. However, this still means hundreds of men are diagnosed each year and early treatment is vital.
People can have an increased risk if members of their family have previously had some types of cancer – a very strong family history may mean there is a genetic risk. You can be tested for two of the genes involved, called BRCA1 and BRCA2. If these genes are found, however, it does not mean you will definitely get cancer.
There are a number of different types of breast cancer, the most common of which is invasive ductal breast cancer. Here, cancer starts in the cells that line the breast ducts and spreads into surrounding tissue.
In the UK every woman between the ages of 50 and 70 is offered mammogram screening every three years as part of the NHS breast cancer screening programme. In England, the age range is 47 to 73. You can also ask for the mammogram screening to continue every three years after the age of 70.
The earlier that breast cancer is found, the easier it is to treat and the better the outcome.
Symptoms of breast cancer
Women are encouraged to check their breasts for signs that could indicate breast cancer. Changes in the breast that should be looked out for include:
- A lump or thickening in an area of the breast
- A change in the size or shape of a breast
- Dimpling of the skin
- A change in the shape of your nipple, or if it turns inward
- A blood stained discharge from the nipple
- A rash on a nipple or surrounding area
- A swelling or lump in your armpit
Seeing your doctor
If you have any of the above symptoms, your GP will examine you, and may ask you to come back in a few weeks’ time if there aren’t obvious signs of cancer, to check whether your symptoms have gone away.
If you have signs that indicate the possibility of breast cancer, your GP should refer you to a specialist breast clinic for further tests. At the clinic the doctors will perform another examination, and carry out a mammogram or ultrasound scan. They may also do a biopsy if you have a lump.
If the results show that you have breast cancer, you will need further tests. Most people have blood tests, an MRI scan and an ultrasound scan, and you may have a liver or bone scan to see if the cancer has spread.
The earlier that breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome, so it is vital that patients are diagnosed and treated at the earliest possible point. Unfortunately if breast cancer is diagnosed when it has already spread to another part of the body, it is often not curable, although symptoms can be controlled for a number of years.
Breast cancer misdiagnosis
There are many reasons you may think your diagnosis of cancer was mishandled: there may be a delay in finding out that you have breast cancer, for example:-
- Where you have had symptoms suspicious of breast cancer, and your GP doesn’t examine you or refer you to a specialist for tests
- An abnormal mammogram or test result isn’t followed up
- A test isn’t reported correctly
- Your symptoms are misdiagnosed as something else
- You may have suffered avoidable problems because a surgical breast reconstruction was not done to the appropriate standard
Any of the above may be medical negligence. If this happens, we can provide specialist advice on making a claim for compensation.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we understand that it isn’t possible for money to fully compensate you for the misdiagnosis, but it may help to ease any financial burden.
In addition to compensation paid for the effect of the more advanced cancer caused by the negligence, you can also recover the cost of expenses, such as the cost of private medical treatment which otherwise wouldn’t have been necessary, and for the cost of extra care on a private basis.
Male breast cancer misdiagnosis
One of the consequences of male breast cancer being so rare and misunderstood is that the male population can frequently fail to spot the red flags, associate them with breast cancer and therefore present to their GP. As a result, diagnosis for men can often occur much later meaning treatment is also delayed. In turn, this increases the chances of the cancer having spread beyond the breast into other areas of the body and worsening the prognosis for the sufferer. Significant efforts are being made to raise awareness of male breast cancer and ensure that men present to their doctors whenever they are experiencing symptoms such as lumps, tenderness and/or a change in appearance.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp we understand that delays in correct diagnosis of male breast cancer can lead to uncertainty for the future and financial worries. If you want to discuss whether you potentially have a claim, call our expert solicitors today.