Here are some reasons why a delay may occur in the diagnosis of breast cancer in a symptomatic woman – and why it is important to correlate clinical, imaging and tissue sampling investigations and recognise any discrepancies, which may be the only indication of a breast cancer.
Breast cancer is common. Litigation against medical practitioners because of a missed or delayed diagnosis of breast cancer constituted the most common claim in medical litigation in the United States in 1995. In 1999, errors in diagnosis were the leading misadventure reported, accounting for 62% of all paid breast cancer claims. In Australia, accurate statistics are not available, but it is estimated that breast cancer claims account for the most frequent litigation involving general practitioners and radiologists (personal communication, Dr Hugh Aders).