Female patients have faith that their doctors will know the difference between a serious health problem and something that fails to pose any danger to their health. One area where is this especially true is with breast cancer. Women depend on doctors to run all proper tests such as for example a physical examination of the breasts, a mammogram, an aspiration or a biopsy to find any cancer that may be present in the earliest stage achievable. The existence of a lump in a breast raises worry immediately. This is where the physician can take the steps necessary to make a correct diagnosis. Typically, physicians concur that the standard of care calls for the doctor to do tests to establish whether that lump is cancerous. The reason most doctors concur that this is the appropriate course of action is due to the fact that it is not possible to make that determination based only doing a physical examination (regardless of whether it is coupled with other factors such as the female patient’s age and family history).
Possibly some 80% of breast associated issues are from benign causes. Moreover, most new breast cancer cases happen in females who are older than fifty. It is hence not surprising that some doctors will diagnose an abnormal finding from a clinical breast examination, particularly with a younger patient, as due to a cyst and not from breast cancer. The odds are in favor of such a diagnosis.
However, this is not the end of the story. In case breast cancer is detected before it can reach a late stage (for example, stage 0, stage I or stage II), the five-year survival rate is usually at least 80%. The five-year survival rate is a statistical measure that studies have shown to represent the percentage of patients who outlive the disease for beyond five years following diagnosis. Therefore, a 5-year survival rate above eighty percent means that, statistically, more than 80 out of every 100 patients with a less advanced stage breast cancer will, given appropriate treatment, survive the disease for at least five years following detection.
Should cancer of the breast not be found until it reaches stage III (generally regarding bigger tumors in the breast or a spread of the cancer to lymph nodes), the 5-year survival rate falls to roughly 54%. With regard to stage IV (typically associated with a tumor that is larger that five cm or the spread of the cancer to the bone or distant organs, such as the lungs), the five-year survival rate is roughly 20%.
Approximately 12% of females will experience breast cancer in their life time. This year alone, approximately 190,000 females will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly, over 40,000 women will die as a result of breast cancer. What percentage of these women would survive their breast cancer if their doctors had looked into complaints of a mass in the breast or an abnormal finding on a clinical breast exam and had discovered the breast cancer earlier, prior to spread or metastasis?
By conducting a clinical breast examination a doctor simply is not able to correctly differentiate between a benign cyst and a cancerous growth. Given this a physician ought to generally suggest that diagnostic testing be ordered immediately if a lump is detected in the breast of a female patient. Examples of diagnostic tests can include an imaging study such as a mammogram or an ultrasound, or a sampling, such as by biopsy or aspiration. Each test has the potential for a false negative thus it might be necessary to perform more than one test before cancer can be eliminated as the cause of the lump.
When a doctor concludes that a lump in the breast of a female patient as simply a benign fibroid cyst based only on a clinical breast examination, that doctor puts the patient at risk of not finding out she has breast cancer until it metastasizes. The failure to conduct proper diagnostic testing, including an imaging study such as a mammogram or ultrasound, or a sampling, such as a biopsy or aspiration, might constitute a departure from the accepted standard of medical care and might lead to a medical malpractice claim.