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Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose Compensation

Breast cancer can be a life-changing diagnosis but devastating if you’ve faced medical negligence as well.

A photo of Mrs Swaffield

I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E.Swaffield
Loughborough

Claiming for breast cancer negligence

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in the UK and while survival rates are increasing it’s still a terrifying experience to learn you have the disease. At a time when you are vulnerable, it can be devastating to learn there was a delay or failure to diagnose breast cancer that means your treatment may now not be as effective.

If a delay has allowed breast cancer to grow and metastasize, there could major complications in subsequent treatments, which may cause further suffering and reduce life expectancy.

Despite considerable advances in knowledge and treatment techniques, the best possible outcome for extending a patient’s life is:

  • An early diagnosis
  • The correct tests and
  • The correct treatment

It is the responsibility of a doctor, specialist or other clinicians involved in your diagnosis to interpret the symptoms correctly and ensure the right treatment is implemented.

As a patient, you are owed a ‘duty of care’ and if at any stage a mistake was made in your diagnosis, the wrong course of treatment was administered or the standard of care fell below expectation, then you may have a claim for medical negligence.

If medical negligence has affected you, Your Legal Friend can offer you the guidance and support you need to start a case for breast cancer compensation with the support of specialist solicitors who have the expertise and knowledge to secure you the best possible outcome for your personal case. Deciding to take your case further and seek compensation, means you could secure money that will help you cover lost earnings, additional outgoings such as extra care and medical costs, (including breast reconstruction or equalisation surgery), allowing you to focus on getting better.

We know what a difficult time this is for our clients and understand that taking the decision to seek compensation after experiencing a delay in cancer diagnosis can be hard. We ensure that from beginning to end, the process is as hassle and stress-free as possible. When you choose to work with us, you’ll have a team of experts on hand to support you every step of the way and guide your breast cancer claim to success.

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Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of cancer negligence cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a breast cancer negligence case.

Breast cancer misdiagnosis claims team

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our breast cancer negligence team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high-value breast cancer negligence cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation. Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7-year-old and £4 million for an 11-year-old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers(APIL) since 2006. Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

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The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan

Director of Medical Negligence

What our customers say

Mrs. Vora's portrait

“I found the staff to be friendly, helpful, courteous and they kept me well informed on a regular basis”

Mrs. Vora,
Loughborough

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“They acted in a sympathetic and professional manner and resolved my case very efficiently”

Mr Dowse
Leeds

  For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today 0151 550 5228

10 simple steps to claim

Step
1
Obtaining your medical records
Step
2
Providing your statement of what happened
Step
3
Minimising your loss
Step
4
Establishing that a breach of duty occurred
Step
5
Estabilishing the effect of the breach of duty
Step
86
Preparing your case for CourtCalculating the value of your claim
Step
7
Proving your loss
Step
68
Calculating the value of your claimPreparing your case for Court
Step
9
Attending the trial in Court
Step
10
Awarding your compensation claim

Your questions... answered

Can I claim for breast cancer misdiagnosis?

If you’ve been affected by medical negligence while fighting breast cancer you may be able to claim compensation. Breast cancer compensation can help you get back on your feet and give you the peace of mind to recover from the disease. To make a successful compensation claim you’ll need to prove that the level of care you received did not meet expectations and let you down as a result.

Breast cancer claims can be successful for a number of different reasons, including: 

Delay in diagnosis or treatment

A late diagnosis of cancer or delay in treatment can have serious consequences for the patient, meaning that success rates fall or that more extensive treatment is required as a result. If a medical professional should have picked up the signs and symptoms of breast cancer sooner or you were then not referred quickly enough you may be able to make a claim with the support of legal professionals.

Misinterpreted test results

Occasionally test results for breast cancer can be interpreted as a negative reading when cancer cells are present, including during a mammogram screening. This misinterpretation can cost valuable time and delay the start of treatment. If there were signs and anomalies that those analysing the results should have picked up, you could have a strong case.

Misdiagnosis

In rare circumstance, breast cancer can be misdiagnosed as another condition when the symptoms are similar. Cancer misdiagnosis claims can be brought forward as a misdiagnosis can mean that incorrect treatment is administered allowing the cancer to develop and spread over time.

Incorrect treatment

There are many options to treat breast cancer and the choice should be dependent on each individual case. You should be able to rely on the team of medical professionals responsible for your care to select the best treatment for your case based on the information they have.

Read less

How long do I have to make a claim?

If you decide to take your medical negligence claim forward, there is a time limit of three years. However, the time limit starts from the ‘date of knowledge’ rather than when you first begin treatment. This means you have three years to make a breast cancer claim from the date that you realised you had been let down by the health care system. While this often gives you more time, as you’re unlikely to have been aware of a problem when you first visit the doctor, it can make pinpointing the date difficult. We usually start by taking the date from the day that you were diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

If you’re unsure about whether you can still make a compensation claim, we can help you understand your personal situation. Our expert team of medical negligence specialists has the experience and skills to assess your breast cancer compensation claim and how to take the next step.

Where possible we recommend that you start the compensation process as quickly as possible. We understand that after dealing with the diagnosis of cancer and undergoing treatment it can be the last thing on your mind but getting the ball rolling quickly means it’s can be easier to access your information, such as medical records, and you’ll remember the details better. Whether your claim is due to a breast cancer delayed diagnosis or another form of medical negligence, we’ll work with you to make the process as easy and smooth as possible.

Read less

Will my claim be on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis?

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point, you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

Whatever the nature of your breast cancer negligence claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard breast cancer negligence claims.

What causes breast cancer?

In the UK, every year around 49,900 women and 350 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the most common form of the disease in the UK. Breast cancer, as with all types of cancers, occurs when cells in the body mutate, this can happen when the cells come into contact with a substance that causes cancer, known as a carcinogen, or because of mistakes that occur when cells split.

There are a number of different breast cancer causes. Definite causes include getting older – breast cancer is extremely rare in women aged under 40 – and having a family history of the disease. Due to family history, there are a small number of people in the UK that have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, the increased risk is due to the potential of having inherited a faulty gene.

Other possible risk factors for breast cancer are:

  • Having uneven breasts
  • Injury to breasts
  • Antibiotics
  • Pesticides
  • Having a pregnancy terminated
  • Stress
Read less

What are the common risk factors for breast cancer?

A doctor should carefully compile your medical profile by normally asking questions directly addressing a number of risk factors known to be related to breast cancer.              

Questions relating to the most common causes of breast cancer are:

  • Age
  • Are you aged over 50?
  • Have you gone through the menopause?

The risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older. There is also a greater risk of a false negative result from a mammogram.

Family History:

  • Is there a history of breast cancer with members of your family or close relatives?

Most cases of breast cancer are not hereditary but there are specific genes which can be passed down from parent to child.

Previous Breast Cancer Diagnosis:

  • Have you previously been diagnosed with breast cancer?

As a result of changes within the cells, there is a high risk of cancer returning, either in the same, or the opposite breast.

Oestrogen Exposure:

  • Did your periods start at a younger age?
  • Did your menopause start at a later age?

Exposure to oestrogen over a longer period of time could cause breast cancer cells to develop, especially if hormone levels were high.

Radiation:

  • Have you undergone a series of X-ray or CT scans?

Exposure to radiation, such as targeted radiotherapy, may increase the risk of developing cancer.

Read less

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

For many women, the first symptom they notice when it comes to breast cancer is a lump.

The early diagnosis of suspected breast cancer symptoms requires an urgent referral to a specialist. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have set out strict guidelines for GPs to follow to ensure an appropriate referral takes place.

According to the NICE guidelines, a doctor should transfer you to a specialist if you have:

Breast

  • Discovered a solid lump or an area of thickened tissue in the breast
  • If you are younger than 30 and have a lump increasing in size
  • If you are younger than 30 and have a lump along with a family history of cancer
  • Dimpling on the skin of the breast.

Nipple

  • Noticed a recent change in the shape or appearance of the nipple
  • A rash on or around your nipple
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Blood from the nipple.

Armpit

  • A lump or swelling in the armpit
  • Pain in the breast or armpit.

In most cases, breast pain isn’t a sign of breast cancer and the majority of lumps aren’t cancerous. However, if you notice one of the breast cancer symptoms you should visit your GP to raise your concerns and ensure that it is diagnosed if cancerous cells are present.

Read less

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

Initially, you should book an appointment with your GP when you first notice the potential signs of breast cancer. The sooner you visit the doctor the better your chance of surviving the disease should you have it; a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer means it has more chance to develop and progress before you begin treatment. When you visit your GP, they will examine you and will refer you to a specialist clinic if they believe you need further assessment. NHS guidelines set out how quickly people should be referred, in some cases it should be as quick as 2 weeks.

In order to get a diagnosis of breast cancer, there are several options:

Mammogram

A mammogram is used to take an X-ray of your breasts and highlight any potential issues. A mammogram is the most frequently used way to initially detect cancer and is used as part of the NHS Breast Screening Programme for early detection.

Breast ultrasound

If you have had a mammogram you may also have a breast ultrasound to see if any abnormalities or lumps are solid or contain liquid. Women under the age of 35 are likely to be recommended to have this option too, as a mammogram isn’t as effective at detecting cancer when the tissue is denser.

Biopsy

A biopsy is used when the doctor wants to test the tissue for cancerous cells. Most commonly, it will be conducted under local anaesthetic and uses a needle to remove a sample of cells from the area but there are other types of biopsies too.

If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, further tests will be needed to indicate the stage the cancer has reached and the appropriate course of treatment. These will include a CT scan, chest x-rays, hormone receptor tests, and a bone scan for very advanced-stage cancers.

Read less

Can breast cancer be misdiagnosed?

Breast cancer can be misdiagnosed or the signs of the disease can be missed. In some cases, this means the potential for cancer misdiagnosis compensation, as it can not only impact your health but also affect your mental wellbeing and financial situation. A failure to diagnose breast cancer means that treatment doesn’t begin as early as it can, this can significantly affect the success and have an impact on survival rates.

There are a number of different ways a delay in cancer diagnosis can occur, including:

The GP fails to refer you

After presenting symptoms of breast cancer to your GP they should conduct an examination and if the signs indicate that the disease is present, refer you to a specialist centre. If the GP fails to notice the signs it can mean a delay in cancer diagnosis.

Negative results from tests

Even when the correct tests are ordered, the results aren’t always accurate, leading to misdiagnosed breast cancer. While in the majority of the cases the results of a breast cancer screening using a mammography are accurate there are times when everything looks normal when breast cancer is present. It’s estimated that this happens in 1 of every 2,500 women screened and is more likely to occur in younger women.

Test results are read wrong

Medical errors can also occur when it comes to reading the test results. A US study highlighted the challenges of interpreting tissue that had been removed during a biopsy. The research found that around a third of abnormal, precancerous cells were misdiagnosed as not worrisome. The findings highlight how breast cancer misdiagnosis can occur even when the correct initial steps are taken.

Misdiagnosis of breast cancer

There are other conditions that have symptoms that are similar to breast cancer, occasionally resulting in misdiagnosis. Mastitis, for instance, is a condition where a woman’s breast tissue can become painful and inflamed, with breast lumps also a potential sign. The similarities mean a failure to correctly diagnose the condition as breast cancer can occur.

Read less

How is breast cancer treated?

Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer you will begin your treatment. This decision of your treatment is made by a multi-disciplinary team that will consider your circumstances, such as the stage of the cancer and how it was diagnosed. You should be able to discuss your breast cancer treatment with the team responsible for your care and they will explain which options are most suitable for you.

Often treatment for breast cancer will include a combination of the following options:

Surgery

Breast cancer surgery aims to remove the cancerous cells from the body. There are two main types of breast cancer surgery – mastectomy, where surgery removes the whole breast, and breast-conserving surgery, where just the tumour is removed. While treatment varies from person to person, treatment of breast cancer when surgery is involved is often followed up by another treatment option, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy, as the name suggests, uses radiation to kill cancer cells. There is more than one type of radiotherapy that can be used to treat breast cancer. It is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy or surgery to provide a complete treatment option. The type chosen will depend on the type of cancer and it isn’t always required.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy also targets and kills cancer cells, using medication. It is often used to destroy cancerous cells that may still be present after surgery has been completed or can be used to reduce the size of the tumour. It can be used as outpatient treatment and does have side effects that your doctor should discuss with you beforehand.

Hormone therapy

One of the breast cancer treatment options is hormone treatment. This treatment lowers the levels of some hormones found naturally in the body. Some types of breast cancers are stimulated to grow by certain hormones and this is when the treatment option is chosen. It’s also used as an alternative when other health conditions prevent breast surgery or chemotherapy.

Biological therapy

Biological therapy works by stopping the effects of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, which can stimulate some breast cancers to grow. As a result, biological therapy helps to give your immune systems a boost and fight the cancer cells itself.

Read less

What are the different types of breast cancer?

While breast cancer is used as a term to cover all tumours found in the breasts, for both men and women, there are different types of breast cancer.

There are two types of early-stage breast cancer:

DCIS breast cancer

Ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS breast cancer, means that some of the cells within the ducts of the breasts have started to turn into cancer cells. This cancer is a very early stage of cancer that hasn’t yet started to spread to the surrounding breast tissue but it can do in the future. Doctors will assess how fast it is spreading before deciding on treatment, which can mean having the area of DCIS removed, as well as a margin of healthy tissue around the area.

Lobular breast cancer

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) isn’t cancer but it does mean that you have an increased risk of getting breast cancer in the future. Referred to as lobular neoplasia, LCIS means the cells in breast lobules have started to become abnormal but have not yet become cancerous. Most of the time women with LCIS will not receive treatment but will instead have their condition closely monitored to see if breast cancer does develop. Only around 10% of breast cancer cases are invasive lobular.

There are also breast cancer types that are referred to as invasive cancer. Invasive breast cancer (NST) is the most common type of breast cancer with around 90% of cases falling into this category. Treatment for invasive breast cancer can include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy, in some cases, a combination of these treatments will be used.

Read less

What are the statistics on breast cancer?

  • 2 million women every year in the UK undergo an X-ray scan to detect breast cancer.
  • 50,000 people are diagnosed each year with breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in the UK.
  • Between three and four breast cancers per 1,000 women screened are missed.
  • Around 2,400 cases a year are being missed by NHS screening.
  • One in five of all clinical negligence claims brought against MPS doctors involves cancer.
  • Misdiagnosis is the common complaint in 80% of claims.

What is the breast cancer survival rate?

Breast cancer statistics show that the survival rate is increasing. According to Cancer Research, around two-thirds of women diagnosed with breast cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for twenty years or more, while 87% survive for more than 5 years. In the last 40 years alone, technological advancements and investment in research means that breast cancer survival rates have doubled.

The survival rate varies depending on the stage of the cancer when it’s diagnosed. If it’s diagnosed and treatment begins during the earliest stage, the vast majority of women will survive their disease for five years or more, however, this falls to three in 20 women if the disease isn’t diagnosed until the final stage.

Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, in both the developed and developing world. Globally it’s estimated that over 508, 00 women died in 2011 as a result of breast cancer.

While rare, breast cancer does also occur in men, with around 350 diagnosed, cases in the UK, compared with around 50,000 cases for women.

Read less

If you’ve been affected by medical negligence while fighting breast cancer you may be able to claim compensation. Breast cancer compensation can help you get back on your feet and give you the peace of mind to recover from the disease. To make a successful compensation claim you’ll need to prove that the level of care you received did not meet expectations and let you down as a result.

Breast cancer claims can be successful for a number of different reasons, including: 

Delay in diagnosis or treatment

A late diagnosis of cancer or delay in treatment can have serious consequences for the patient, meaning that success rates fall or that more extensive treatment is required as a result. If a medical professional should have picked up the signs and symptoms of breast cancer sooner or you were then not referred quickly enough you may be able to make a claim with the support of legal professionals.

Misinterpreted test results

Occasionally test results for breast cancer can be interpreted as a negative reading when cancer cells are present, including during a mammogram screening. This misinterpretation can cost valuable time and delay the start of treatment. If there were signs and anomalies that those analysing the results should have picked up, you could have a strong case.

Misdiagnosis

In rare circumstance, breast cancer can be misdiagnosed as another condition when the symptoms are similar. Cancer misdiagnosis claims can be brought forward as a misdiagnosis can mean that incorrect treatment is administered allowing the cancer to develop and spread over time.

Incorrect treatment

There are many options to treat breast cancer and the choice should be dependent on each individual case. You should be able to rely on the team of medical professionals responsible for your care to select the best treatment for your case based on the information they have.

Read less

If you decide to take your medical negligence claim forward, there is a time limit of three years. However, the time limit starts from the ‘date of knowledge’ rather than when you first begin treatment. This means you have three years to make a breast cancer claim from the date that you realised you had been let down by the health care system. While this often gives you more time, as you’re unlikely to have been aware of a problem when you first visit the doctor, it can make pinpointing the date difficult. We usually start by taking the date from the day that you were diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

If you’re unsure about whether you can still make a compensation claim, we can help you understand your personal situation. Our expert team of medical negligence specialists has the experience and skills to assess your breast cancer compensation claim and how to take the next step.

Where possible we recommend that you start the compensation process as quickly as possible. We understand that after dealing with the diagnosis of cancer and undergoing treatment it can be the last thing on your mind but getting the ball rolling quickly means it’s can be easier to access your information, such as medical records, and you’ll remember the details better. Whether your claim is due to a breast cancer delayed diagnosis or another form of medical negligence, we’ll work with you to make the process as easy and smooth as possible.

Read less

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point, you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

Whatever the nature of your breast cancer negligence claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard breast cancer negligence claims.

In the UK, every year around 49,900 women and 350 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the most common form of the disease in the UK. Breast cancer, as with all types of cancers, occurs when cells in the body mutate, this can happen when the cells come into contact with a substance that causes cancer, known as a carcinogen, or because of mistakes that occur when cells split.

There are a number of different breast cancer causes. Definite causes include getting older – breast cancer is extremely rare in women aged under 40 – and having a family history of the disease. Due to family history, there are a small number of people in the UK that have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, the increased risk is due to the potential of having inherited a faulty gene.

Other possible risk factors for breast cancer are:

  • Having uneven breasts
  • Injury to breasts
  • Antibiotics
  • Pesticides
  • Having a pregnancy terminated
  • Stress
Read less

A doctor should carefully compile your medical profile by normally asking questions directly addressing a number of risk factors known to be related to breast cancer.              

Questions relating to the most common causes of breast cancer are:

  • Age
  • Are you aged over 50?
  • Have you gone through the menopause?

The risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older. There is also a greater risk of a false negative result from a mammogram.

Family History:

  • Is there a history of breast cancer with members of your family or close relatives?

Most cases of breast cancer are not hereditary but there are specific genes which can be passed down from parent to child.

Previous Breast Cancer Diagnosis:

  • Have you previously been diagnosed with breast cancer?

As a result of changes within the cells, there is a high risk of cancer returning, either in the same, or the opposite breast.

Oestrogen Exposure:

  • Did your periods start at a younger age?
  • Did your menopause start at a later age?

Exposure to oestrogen over a longer period of time could cause breast cancer cells to develop, especially if hormone levels were high.

Radiation:

  • Have you undergone a series of X-ray or CT scans?

Exposure to radiation, such as targeted radiotherapy, may increase the risk of developing cancer.

Read less

For many women, the first symptom they notice when it comes to breast cancer is a lump.

The early diagnosis of suspected breast cancer symptoms requires an urgent referral to a specialist. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have set out strict guidelines for GPs to follow to ensure an appropriate referral takes place.

According to the NICE guidelines, a doctor should transfer you to a specialist if you have:

Breast

  • Discovered a solid lump or an area of thickened tissue in the breast
  • If you are younger than 30 and have a lump increasing in size
  • If you are younger than 30 and have a lump along with a family history of cancer
  • Dimpling on the skin of the breast.

Nipple

  • Noticed a recent change in the shape or appearance of the nipple
  • A rash on or around your nipple
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Blood from the nipple.

Armpit

  • A lump or swelling in the armpit
  • Pain in the breast or armpit.

In most cases, breast pain isn’t a sign of breast cancer and the majority of lumps aren’t cancerous. However, if you notice one of the breast cancer symptoms you should visit your GP to raise your concerns and ensure that it is diagnosed if cancerous cells are present.

Read less

Initially, you should book an appointment with your GP when you first notice the potential signs of breast cancer. The sooner you visit the doctor the better your chance of surviving the disease should you have it; a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer means it has more chance to develop and progress before you begin treatment. When you visit your GP, they will examine you and will refer you to a specialist clinic if they believe you need further assessment. NHS guidelines set out how quickly people should be referred, in some cases it should be as quick as 2 weeks.

In order to get a diagnosis of breast cancer, there are several options:

Mammogram

A mammogram is used to take an X-ray of your breasts and highlight any potential issues. A mammogram is the most frequently used way to initially detect cancer and is used as part of the NHS Breast Screening Programme for early detection.

Breast ultrasound

If you have had a mammogram you may also have a breast ultrasound to see if any abnormalities or lumps are solid or contain liquid. Women under the age of 35 are likely to be recommended to have this option too, as a mammogram isn’t as effective at detecting cancer when the tissue is denser.

Biopsy

A biopsy is used when the doctor wants to test the tissue for cancerous cells. Most commonly, it will be conducted under local anaesthetic and uses a needle to remove a sample of cells from the area but there are other types of biopsies too.

If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, further tests will be needed to indicate the stage the cancer has reached and the appropriate course of treatment. These will include a CT scan, chest x-rays, hormone receptor tests, and a bone scan for very advanced-stage cancers.

Read less

Breast cancer can be misdiagnosed or the signs of the disease can be missed. In some cases, this means the potential for cancer misdiagnosis compensation, as it can not only impact your health but also affect your mental wellbeing and financial situation. A failure to diagnose breast cancer means that treatment doesn’t begin as early as it can, this can significantly affect the success and have an impact on survival rates.

There are a number of different ways a delay in cancer diagnosis can occur, including:

The GP fails to refer you

After presenting symptoms of breast cancer to your GP they should conduct an examination and if the signs indicate that the disease is present, refer you to a specialist centre. If the GP fails to notice the signs it can mean a delay in cancer diagnosis.

Negative results from tests

Even when the correct tests are ordered, the results aren’t always accurate, leading to misdiagnosed breast cancer. While in the majority of the cases the results of a breast cancer screening using a mammography are accurate there are times when everything looks normal when breast cancer is present. It’s estimated that this happens in 1 of every 2,500 women screened and is more likely to occur in younger women.

Test results are read wrong

Medical errors can also occur when it comes to reading the test results. A US study highlighted the challenges of interpreting tissue that had been removed during a biopsy. The research found that around a third of abnormal, precancerous cells were misdiagnosed as not worrisome. The findings highlight how breast cancer misdiagnosis can occur even when the correct initial steps are taken.

Misdiagnosis of breast cancer

There are other conditions that have symptoms that are similar to breast cancer, occasionally resulting in misdiagnosis. Mastitis, for instance, is a condition where a woman’s breast tissue can become painful and inflamed, with breast lumps also a potential sign. The similarities mean a failure to correctly diagnose the condition as breast cancer can occur.

Read less

Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer you will begin your treatment. This decision of your treatment is made by a multi-disciplinary team that will consider your circumstances, such as the stage of the cancer and how it was diagnosed. You should be able to discuss your breast cancer treatment with the team responsible for your care and they will explain which options are most suitable for you.

Often treatment for breast cancer will include a combination of the following options:

Surgery

Breast cancer surgery aims to remove the cancerous cells from the body. There are two main types of breast cancer surgery – mastectomy, where surgery removes the whole breast, and breast-conserving surgery, where just the tumour is removed. While treatment varies from person to person, treatment of breast cancer when surgery is involved is often followed up by another treatment option, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy, as the name suggests, uses radiation to kill cancer cells. There is more than one type of radiotherapy that can be used to treat breast cancer. It is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy or surgery to provide a complete treatment option. The type chosen will depend on the type of cancer and it isn’t always required.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy also targets and kills cancer cells, using medication. It is often used to destroy cancerous cells that may still be present after surgery has been completed or can be used to reduce the size of the tumour. It can be used as outpatient treatment and does have side effects that your doctor should discuss with you beforehand.

Hormone therapy

One of the breast cancer treatment options is hormone treatment. This treatment lowers the levels of some hormones found naturally in the body. Some types of breast cancers are stimulated to grow by certain hormones and this is when the treatment option is chosen. It’s also used as an alternative when other health conditions prevent breast surgery or chemotherapy.

Biological therapy

Biological therapy works by stopping the effects of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, which can stimulate some breast cancers to grow. As a result, biological therapy helps to give your immune systems a boost and fight the cancer cells itself.

Read less

While breast cancer is used as a term to cover all tumours found in the breasts, for both men and women, there are different types of breast cancer.

There are two types of early-stage breast cancer:

DCIS breast cancer

Ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS breast cancer, means that some of the cells within the ducts of the breasts have started to turn into cancer cells. This cancer is a very early stage of cancer that hasn’t yet started to spread to the surrounding breast tissue but it can do in the future. Doctors will assess how fast it is spreading before deciding on treatment, which can mean having the area of DCIS removed, as well as a margin of healthy tissue around the area.

Lobular breast cancer

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) isn’t cancer but it does mean that you have an increased risk of getting breast cancer in the future. Referred to as lobular neoplasia, LCIS means the cells in breast lobules have started to become abnormal but have not yet become cancerous. Most of the time women with LCIS will not receive treatment but will instead have their condition closely monitored to see if breast cancer does develop. Only around 10% of breast cancer cases are invasive lobular.

There are also breast cancer types that are referred to as invasive cancer. Invasive breast cancer (NST) is the most common type of breast cancer with around 90% of cases falling into this category. Treatment for invasive breast cancer can include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy, in some cases, a combination of these treatments will be used.

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  • 2 million women every year in the UK undergo an X-ray scan to detect breast cancer.
  • 50,000 people are diagnosed each year with breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in the UK.
  • Between three and four breast cancers per 1,000 women screened are missed.
  • Around 2,400 cases a year are being missed by NHS screening.
  • One in five of all clinical negligence claims brought against MPS doctors involves cancer.
  • Misdiagnosis is the common complaint in 80% of claims.

Breast cancer statistics show that the survival rate is increasing. According to Cancer Research, around two-thirds of women diagnosed with breast cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for twenty years or more, while 87% survive for more than 5 years. In the last 40 years alone, technological advancements and investment in research means that breast cancer survival rates have doubled.

The survival rate varies depending on the stage of the cancer when it’s diagnosed. If it’s diagnosed and treatment begins during the earliest stage, the vast majority of women will survive their disease for five years or more, however, this falls to three in 20 women if the disease isn’t diagnosed until the final stage.

Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, in both the developed and developing world. Globally it’s estimated that over 508, 00 women died in 2011 as a result of breast cancer.

While rare, breast cancer does also occur in men, with around 350 diagnosed, cases in the UK, compared with around 50,000 cases for women.

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