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How is breast cancer diagnosed?

The sudden onset of a medical condition can be debilitating and frightening. Fortunately, educated and experienced medical professionals, coupled with effective surgical and medication-driven treatments, can oftentimes halt a worsening medical condition, ease symptoms or even cure a disease altogether. However, the effectiveness of such treatments depends on a medical professional's ability to make an accurate and timely diagnosis. Those who fail to do so could be leaving patients at risk of a worsened medical condition, perhaps even to the point where the condition becomes fatal.

This may be especially true when dealing with breast cancer. Sure, there are many ways that breast cancer can be diagnosed, but their utilization is left to the actions of a medical professional. First, a doctor can conduct a breast exam to check for abnormal lumps. Second, he or she can order a mammogram whereby X-rays are used to create an image of the breast. This, too, can help identify abnormalities. Third, a medical professional can conduct an ultrasound test, which will help him or her determine whether a lump is solid or merely a liquid-filled cyst. Fourth, doctors can conduct a biopsy. Here, tissue is removed from the breast and tested for cancer cells. Lastly, an MRI can be ordered to better see the inside of a breast and, potentially, cancer.

Although one, or a combination, of these tests should identify breast cancer, they rely on a doctor's ability to order them and properly read test results. Sadly, doctors make mistakes. When they do so in this context, victims can be left with advanced stage cancer that would have been treatable if identified more quickly.

In these cases, when damages have been suffered, a victim may be able to succeed on a medical malpractice claim based on a doctor's failure to diagnose cancer, or his or her misdiagnosis of cancer. The process may be challenging, though, as defense attorneys will aggressively defend their clients' actions or inactions. This is why it is critical for medical malpractice victims to consider speaking with a competent attorney to discover the best way to proceed in their pursuit for compensation.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Breast Cancer," accessed on March 6, 2017

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