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Medical errors in breast cancer diagnosis

Breast cancer is a serious disease that affects many women in New York and across the United States. Doctors agree that an early diagnosis is one of the most important factors in long-term survival. A delay in diagnosis by as little as three months puts most women in the significantly lower survival rate category of less than five years.

Most women are familiar with the common way breast cancer is identified. A lump on the breast is one of the most obvious signs, and it is something that most women and doctors look for regularly. A British study, however, shows that there many be many other signs of breast cancer that do not include a lump. These signs usually consist of other abnormalities such as pain in the breast and nipple or skin abnormalities. A small percentage of women in the study displayed signs that were not easily attributed to the breast, such as a lump under the armpit or general pain, dizziness or breathlessness.

This information is important for both women and medical professionals because it shows that there is a great variance in symptoms with breast cancer. The important factor the study also examined was how long it took the women with various symptoms to seek proper treatment. They found that very few of those with a lump waited at least 90 days while almost 20 percent of women with other symptoms waited that long.

Due to the variation of symptoms, it is possible for a doctor or other medical professional to fail to diagnose breast cancer in a timely manner. This can delay treatment and greatly reduce the chance of a successful recovery or long-term survival. Not all doctor errors constitute medical malpractice however. It must be shown that the delayed diagnosis constituted a failure by the health care professional to exhibit the requisite standard of care.

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