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Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims 80,000 Lives each Year: Report

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Washington, DCIn spite of all the progress made in the breast cancer arena and public awareness that has advanced light years, breast cancer misdiagnosis remains not only a problem but also an increasing liability. Breast cancer misdiagnosed can affect a huge emotional toll on a woman and her family, not to mention the physical risks from botched breast cancer testing.

Breast UltrasoundAnd now a noted medical journal has weighed into the breast cancer diagnosis waters with a telling commentary on the state of the union. On March 11th David Newman-Toker, M.D., Ph.D. together with Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D. reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that diagnostic errors are growing. They are often unrecognized and often go unreported.

Breast cancer misdiagnosis claims as many as 80,000 hospital deaths each year, according to the report 'Diagnostic Errors – The Next Frontier for Patient Safety.'
It was also revealed that roughly 5 percent of autopsies uncover diagnostic errors that, if avoided and the correct diagnosis and treatment realized, death would have been averted.

Robin Gray is one woman who might have been included in that roster of 80,000 unnecessary deaths were it not for some luck and an unseen hand.

The young registered nurse form Upstate New York was originally told that a lump she discovered in one of her breasts was benign. Seventeen long months later, a subsequent test yielded the unthinkable: a malignant tumor that was allowed to flourish for 17 long months while the woman's breast cancer remained improperly diagnosed.

Robin's story is a happy one, given that she survived. The New York woman is also serving to prove an inspiration and a source of knowledge to others by publishing a book on the subject. And while she has survived and now calls herself a breast cancer survivor, it was not without great cost and suffering. Due to the incorrect breast cancer testing, the cancer was left to spread to her lymph nodes, requiring additional surgeries and more robust chemotherapy to combat.

Breast cancer misdiagnosis is a growing problem, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. While physicians who specialized in mammography maintained an error rate of only about 3 percent, other physicians lacking the correct specialization failed to identify breast cancer 71 percent of the time.

In eastern Canada, botched testing resulted in the incorrect diagnoses of hundreds of breast cancer patients. Dozens died and a provincial inquiry galvanized not only an entire country, but also the global breast cancer community.

In recent days a court decision may serve to expedite a lawsuit launched by patients of a former pathologist in the Canadian city of Miramichi. Dr. Rajgopal Menon is accused of performing flawed laboratory work that resulted in an 18 percent error rate out of 226 breast and prostate cancer reports he reviewed at the now-defunct Miramichi Regional Hospital Authority in New Brunswick last year.

While the proposed class action lawsuit includes about 100 people, as many as 15,000 are eligible to join the class action, according to the attorney who represents the 100 eastern Canadian patients.

Meanwhile Robin Gray is but one example of what can happen when breast cancer testing goes awry. Often breast cancer misdiagnosis is the result of insufficient time, or experience in the particular discipline of medicine required for an accurate and consistent diagnosis. Doctors have also been found no be less aggressive diagnosing tests in relatively young women, thinking that cancer is not probable at such a young age.
Critics would argue that all demographics deserve equal scrutiny and especially the young, who may have young families.

Today, seven years after her cancer scare Robin Gray is a loving wife and mother to three boys. Had she not survived, or her misdiagnosed breast cancer been allowed to linger beyond the 17 months, the RN might not have been here to care for her young family.

Breast cancer misdiagnosed can enact both a mighty physical, as well as emotional toll. If your health has been compromised from suspected, or conclusively incorrect breast cancer testing, you should seek the services of a qualified breast cancer misdiagnosis attorney.


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