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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A common case of misdiagnosis


Shine Lawyers | Clare Eves | Shine Lawyers

Written by:
Clare Eves
National Special Counsel,
Medical Negligence, No Win No Fee

It's the end of the month – the final day in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but hopefully that doesn't mean it's the final day you make it your priority to book in for that appointment for a breast screen.

Frighteningly, breast cancer is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases.

Doctors can fail to refer women for investigation who are high risk, scans can be misinterpreted or abnormalities in your blood tests can be overlooked, all of which can lead to a delay in diagnosis, and the loss of opportunity to treat your illness in a timely manner.

On the final day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I write to you to encourage you to book in and ask for that opinion, or to get a second opinion in the instance that you feel something has been overlooked. The lesson rings true - you know your body better than anyone else, so you must be your own biggest advocate when it comes to getting tested for any illnesses you fear you may have.

Doctor and patient talking

If you're unhappy with the advice you've been given, get a second opinion with someone else. If something had been identified, insist on having a biopsy of the affected area if you believe sufficient investigations haven't been done.

This year alone, it’s estimated that 17,586 Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer; however it is important to remember that most women survive this illness, IF they detect it early and get the right treatment.

As many as one in eight of us will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85. That is approximately 48 women (and occasionally men) per day.

Our risk is raised if we are above 60, have a strong family history or have a known genetic mutation and men, you are not immune. Research says that as many as 144 of you will be diagnosed with breast cancer just this year.

This is an illness that affects us all. It does not discriminate and it will not be ignored.

The good news is, the five year survival rate of this illness is 90%. This means that with the right medical team, mammograms, self-checks and improved treatment regimens, it's likely you can and will survive this horrible illness.

Still, it is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in Australian women, which to me, suggests that we are not picking this up early enough. There are 3,114 women who will lose their lives to the disease this year alone.

To all of us, that is 3,114 too many, particularly if they have come as a result of late or misdiagnosis which has taken away their chance of a better outcome.

If you, or a loved one has been affected by a late or misdiagnosis, it's not too late to seek help. Shine Lawyers' Medical Law team can help you bring a claim for compensation to access the care, support and treatment you need. Get in touch today for more information.

Written by Clare Eves on October 30, 2017. Last modified: August 31, 2018.

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