Delay in Diagnosing Breast Cancer
This case involved the delayed diagnosis of breast cancer by our client’s obstetrician. Our client, a married woman only 34-years old, complained to her obstetrician of two left breast lumps and left axilla pain. He examined her left breast and confirmed that lumps were present, but reassured her that she was too young for breast cancer.
Remarkably, this obstetrician examined our client on a number of occasions over the next four months noting the history of left breast lumps, left breast tenderness, and left breast pain but negligently and carelessly failed to order diagnostic studies, tests or consultations in order to exclude the possibility of breast cancer or pre-malignant breast changes.
Approximately one and a half years later, our client contacted her family physician about her lumps and he immediately and promptly referred her to a different obstetrician. The new obstetrician conducted a breast examination, took the history of left breast tenderness, left breast pain, and left breast lumps as well as complaints of inverting nipples. This new obstetrician then ordered a bilateral breast mammogram and ultrasound. The sonogram and mammogram confirmed distortion and a speculated mass in the central and upper outer portion of the left breast, nipple retraction, and a mass in the upper outer left breast which were both very suspicious for malignancy. Our client was then immediately referred to a specialist at a local hospital.
For the next four months, our client underwent chemotherapy cancer treatment and eventually underwent a double radical mastectomy with node dissection, which confirmed the presence of breast cancer in multiple locations as well as metastatic disease to the lymph nodes. Unfortunately, our client’s cancer was stage 4 when it was diagnosed and will probably recur.
Suit was filed against the obstetrician and his corporation in Allegheny County, PA. At trial, our medical experts opined that her chances for a cure were much greater had the cancer been diagnosed 22 months earlier. The jury rendered a verdict in our client’s favor in the amount of $750,000.