Breast Cancer Diagnosis - Why is It Often Delayed?
Every day men and women consult with their doctors with regard to their health problems. When people schedule an appointment with their physicians they are planning to go to the doctor's office because they hope that they will be healed from what ails them.
However, even physicians make mistakes. Unfortunately, some of these mistakes can result in life-changing, permanent, or even fatal injuries.
The Institute of Medicine conservatively estimates that medical errors are the 8th leading cause of death in the United States. Medical errors could be prevented. In addition to lives that have been changed or lost, medical errors cost the country approximately $17 billion per year.
One area that affects thousands of women and the ones they love every day is breast cancer. When a health care provider fails to properly diagnose a patient who has breast cancer the results can be devastating.
A possible reason that the failure to properly diagnose - or to misdiagnose - breast cancer is so common is that the medical community for the most part has the preconceived notion that the only older women are at risk and that these women also have a family history of breast cancer.
The Physicians Insurers Association of America did a study and found that the three main reasons that doctors misdiagnose breast cancer are:
1. Doctors do not take women seriously when these women describe the symptoms of breast cancer.
2. Even if the patient says that she has felt a lump many doctors still heavily rely on negative mammogram results.
3. Physicians place too much emphasis on a woman's age as a factor for predicting breast cancer.
What is the Best Way to Detect Breast Cancer?
The key to early detection of breast cancer is to regularly test for it. If you can spot the signs early you will greatly improve your chances for a total recovery.
The two best ways to test for breast cancer are by having regular mammograms and by doing a thorough self-exam each and every month.
To put things into perspective about how important early detection is, let's take a look at the 5-year survival rate for people with breast cancer who received the appropriate treatments. The best indicator of the prognosis is based on the clinical stage of breast cancer.
- Stage 0 - 100%
- Stage 1 - 100%
- Stage II - 86%
- Stage III - 57%
- Stage IV - 20%
If cancer is not diagnosed in time it can greatly reduce the chance of recovery.
When you visit your doctor keep in mind that in terms of cost and frequency the delay in the diagnosis of breast cancer is one of the leading causes of malpractice claims in the United States.
If you are a victim of malpractice you may be entitled to compensation for the cost of health and personal care, lost income, and other damages.
By Wendy Moyer