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How is breast cancer diagnosed?

Sometimes it seems like medical technologies and practices are advancing at a rapid pace. New medications can increase disease sufferers' longevity and reduce symptoms, and some operations can leave a patient totally healed of their affliction. However, as is often the case, even the best medical treatments depend a lot on an accurate and timely diagnosis. A failure to diagnose, or a misdiagnosis, can lead to a worsened medical condition, forcing a patient to incur additional pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages. In the worst cases, victims of these incidences die. Perhaps, with no other illness is this more the case than with cancer.

Some cancers, though, like breast cancer, should be easily detectable. For breast cancer, medical professionals have a number of diagnostic options available to them. A physical exam may lead to the discovery of lumps and other abnormalities, and a mammogram, which is essentially an x-ray of the chest, can provide a generalized picture of any abnormalities.

But, the testing options don't stop there. Doctors can also order an ultrasound of a breast, which can give them an image of lumps deep within the breast, and they can use MRI testing to obtain images of a breast's interior. Once a questionable mass is found, doctors can biopsy the tissue and run even further tests on it.

So, what does this mean? It means that if a doctor misses breast cancer, then there may be a possibility that they have committed medical malpractice, particularly if they failed to either order the appropriate tests or failed to accurately read test results. When medical neglect leads to the unexpected loss of a loved one, surviving family members may want to consider their legal options. Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit may lead to the recovery of compensation for their damages, but it may also act as a deterrent so that medical professionals and hospitals take more care in the future.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Breast cancer," accessed on May 26, 2017

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