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Misdiagnosis of Cancer: Risks and Consequences

An early diagnosis of breast cancer is crucial for successful treatment, and many women schedule annual mammograms in order to screen for the disease. However, identifying the earliest stages of breast cancer can be challenging for medical professionals and prone to many errors, according to a 2010 New York Times article that chronicled the story of one such case. For this woman it meant losing one quarter of her breast, which fueled accusations of medical negligence against the pathologist who misdiagnosed her with ductal carcinoma in situ, or D.C.I.S.

Despite technological advances in mammography and other imaging techniques, the difficulty in distinguishing between benign lesions and the carcinogenic cells of early breast cancer leads to an alarming rate of misdiagnoses. It is estimated that some 90,000 women who were diagnosed with D.C.I.S. or another form of the disease either did not have cancer at all, or their pathologist made a mistake that resulted in improper treatment.

For many patients in this tragic situation, legal recourse is available through the assistance of a New York medical malpractice lawyer. The Sanders firm has secured millions of dollars in jury verdicts and settlements for clients who’ve endured surgeries and medical treatment they did not need due to improper or delayed medical diagnosis.

Lack of standardized diagnostics

As detailed in the NY Times story, Monica Long received the diagnosis from a rural Michigan pathologist that she had early-stage breast cancer based on the results from her biopsy. After undergoing a partial mastectomy and  radiation therapy, she was later told her pathologist made an error – there was no cancer. She now deals with the psychological and physical damages of her doctor’s mistake.

Roughly 17 percent of D.C.I.S. cases confirmed by needle biopsy may be misdiagnosed according to studies. And with the lack of government-mandated diagnostic standards among pathologists, patients have a lower chance of getting an accurate diagnosis.

Medical errors lead to misdiagnosis of cancer in New York

Even worse for Ms. Long is that leading oncologists who reviewed her medical documents found that she was in the same boat as hundreds of women around the country who have been misdiagnosed and treated for a disease they never had. She is now left with the disfiguring results of her surgery when there was no need for a procedure at all.

In women who truly have D.C.I.S., when left untreated, the cells turn into invasive cancer roughly 30% of the time – sometimes decades later. In response to growing reports of misdiagnoses, the College of American Pathologists is initiating a voluntary certification program that would require doctors to interpret 250 cases each year.

New York medical malpractice lawyer

A cancer misdiagnosis has lasting consequences on the victim’s physical and emotional well-being, often leading to financial hardships that are difficult to overcome. If you believe you or a loved one was misdiagnosed, please contact The Sanders Firm. Serving residents in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, our legal team has years of experience in helping victims of medical mistakes. Speak with a New York medical malpractice lawyer today. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY (800.324.7752).