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When the medical field fails breast cancer victims

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons, merchandise, breast cancer-themed run/walks and advertising campaigns will be easy to spot for the next four weeks. Breast cancer awareness is a positive thing and the campaigns help further that cause. They do little to help the women who do everything right, only to have their doctors drop the ball in identifying and treating breast cancer.

Missed breast cancer diagnosis

Many malpractice claims involving breast cancer come from a missed or delayed diagnosis. Women are encouraged to get mammograms every other year, starting at age 50, according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Other studies recommend biennial screening starting at age 40. But getting a mammogram is only helpful if it is interpreted correctly. A patient with breast cancer who gets screened but isn't informed of the cancer has not benefited. If a woman with a malignant tumor is told the lump is benign, she loses precious time to act. The months or years of lost treatment can make the difference between life and death for women with the disease. 

Improper treatment

Once breast cancer is properly identified, mistakes in treatment can cause further problems. In extreme cases, a botched surgery can leave the cancer in place to grow and spread. Surgical errors can also lead to further surgeries and complications such as damage to surrounding organs, infection and cosmetic damage.

Breast cancer awareness is important. The work done by so many to raise money to find a cure or to help women afflicted with the disease is incredible. It does not erase the harm suffered by so many women who are victimized by medical malpractice in relation to their brush with breast cancer.

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