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Undiagnosed Breast Cancer/Metastasis

Filed under Cancer Cases

The Craft Case

Ms. Craft, at age 40, began getting her doctor’s suggested yearly mammograms performed at her local hospital. In September, 2002, Ms. Craft had a screening mammogram done, and a 9 millimeter nodular density, was noted in the left breast. After the radiologist finished his review, he recommended that further evaluations be done.

One month later a mammogram on the left breast was performed to re-evaluate the nodule. The mammogram demonstrated a small nodular density which was described as a benign cyst. A follow-up evaluation was recommended in 12 months.

However, about seven (7) months later, Ms. Craft felt a breast lump, and noticed that there was leakage from her breasts. Concerned, she immediately called her doctors, and she was seen by a Dr. Peterson, an associate of her regular gynecologist. Dr. Peterson suggested another mammogram and ultrasound.

A unilateral left mammogram was performed with a left breast ultrasound and the radiologist, Dr. Tabling, compared the studies to the September 2002 studies. Again a nodule was noted in the 8 o’clock position of the left breast, but this time, scattered micro calcifications were also noted throughout the left breasts which were not evident on the prior study. Dr. Tabling, the radiologist said her assessment was that they were benign findings, and recommended another follow-up in 6 months.

Six months later, Ms. Craft had her yearly bilateral mammograms performed and the nodular density in the 8 o’clock position of the left breast was again seen. However, again, there was noted an increase in diffuse micro-calcifications throughout the left breast. Dr. Tabling, the radiologist reviewed the films and recommended another six month follow-up and her assessment was that the breast were “probably benign.”

However, three months later, Ms. Craft noticed serious breast changes that included shrinking and puckering of the left breast. Ms. Craft insisted on further testing at a different Hospital, with a different radiologist. It turned out that Ms. Craft’s suspicions were correct, but, at the time of diagnosis, an MRI confirmed the presence of cancer in the left breast and lymph nodes.

Subsequent to her diagnosis, Ms. Craft’s breast cancer metastasized to her brain and liver, for which she continues to treat. She has undergone multiple radiation and chemotherapy treatments, as well as a gamma knife procedure and a radiofrequency ablation.

A lawsuit was filed in Allegheny County alleging that the delay in diagnosing Ms. Craft’s breast cancer eliminated her chance for the diagnosis of curable breast cancer with full recovery, and will ultimately lead to her premature and untimely death. The attorneys for the doctors argued that Ms. Craft’s breasts were dense breasts, and that the findings of microcalcifications were not suspicious enough to warrant any further testing.

The case proceeded through discovery, and before a jury was to be picked, the case was settled for a substantial, confidential sum.