Breast cancer is a growth of abnormal cells within the breast and surrounding tissue. Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in 2009 there were more than 192,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer; with an estimated 40,000 related deaths to the disease. In addition, approximately 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
There are various risk factors for breast cancer. One risk factor is age, with most women diagnosed with breast cancer over the age of 60. Also, if you or an immediate family member have a history of breast cancer or abnormal breast cells, you are at greater risk to develop breast cancer. For example, in recent years it has been discovered that there are genetic propensities toward the development of this cancer (BRCA 1 & 2; click here for more information). Reproductive history also plays a role in the statistical incidence of breast cancer: as women who have never had children, or who have had children later in life have an increased risk of this disease. Women who go through menopause after age 55 also have an increased risk of breast cancer. Caucasian women are more likely to develop breast cancer than women of other races.
Lastly, there are some lifestyle factors which can affect the incidence of breast cancer. Women who are overweight, sedentary and those who consume more alcohol have an increased likelihood of getting breast cancer.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer can manifest as a lump in the breast or underarm. The breast could change size or shape. The skin of the breast may dimple or pucker, or the skin could become scaly, red or swollen. If the nipple turns inward or discharges fluid, it could be a sign of cancer.
Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Health care providers such as general practitioners and gynecologists should physically check your breasts during examinations. During the examination, the health care provider will feel for lumps or abnormalities. If anything abnormal is found, the health care provider should recommend further tests, such as a mammogram. Mammograms are x-ray pictures of breast tissue that can show abnormalities even before they can be felt. It is also the standard of care that mammograms be performed annually on women who are 40 or older and on those under 40 who have certain risk factors for breast cancer. If anything suspicious is found during the mammogram, doctors may order additional imaging tests such as an ultrasound or perform a biopsy. Biopsies are the removal of tissue to examine the cells in an effort to determine if there are any pathological (cellular) abnormalities. Time is of the essence when it comes to the diagnosis of breast cancer as the disease can be curable with early detection. Breast cancer survival rates decrease dramatically the longer the cancer remains undetected and continues to grow and potentially spread.
Treatment Options for Breast Cancer
Today, there are more treatment options than ever for breast cancer. The options available depend on how advanced the cancer is, the type of breast cancer and other factors. Options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy, which involves using a combination of drugs that may impede the growth of cancer cells.
New Jersey Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis
If a health care provider or a doctor does not order appropriate and timely testing to assist in making a breast cancer diagnosis, or does not follow up on abnormal exams or test results, one may be able to pursue a claim involving medical negligence.
Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorneys
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with breast cancer? Do you feel the cancer could or should have been detected earlier but was not due to possible medical negligence? If so, contact the New Jersey breast cancer attorneys at Blume Goldfaden at 973-635-5400 to speak with one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers. Our attorneys have handled numerous meritorious cases alleging a failure to diagnose breast and other cancers.