You notice a lump in your breast while taking a shower. You notice it again the next day. And the next. You decide you need to see your gynecologist to have it checked. Your doctor fits you in and examines you.
The lump is palpable. It has gotten bigger. It has not gone away.
Your doctor has a number of choices. She can watch the lump and check it periodically. Or, she can send you for a series of tests including a breast sonogram, mammogram and a referral to a breast surgeon for further evaluation. The surgeon may do a biopsy, also known as a fine needle aspiration.
The failure to diagnose breast cancer cases arise in two primary ways. The first is when your doctor decides to sit and watch it. Over time, both the patient and doctor forget about the lump and never recognize the significance of it until it's too late.
Another way patients are neglected are when the radiology facility or radiologist misinterprets your imaging studies.
In either case, the failure to timely diagnose breast cancer can have devastating consequences.
The key question in every failure to diagnose breast cancer case is "If your breast cancer was timely detected, would your outcome or treatment have been different?"