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Medical Verdicts

Did delay result in stage IV breast cancer?

October 2003 · Vol. 15, No. 10

<court>Brockton (Mass) Superior Court</court>

When a 62-year-old woman complained of a slight swelling in her armpit, her physician allegedly told her that thyroid blood tests and blood pressure checks he had performed at a previous visit were sufficient to rule out cancer. He also noted that her annual mammograms were negative.

Eighteen months later, the woman alleged, she presented with a walnut-sized lump in her armpit, but the doctor did not detect a mass. In another 6 months, the physician detected a mass and diagnosed terminal stage IV breast cancer.

In court, the woman claimed the physician gave her a false sense of security when he said blood work would be enough to detect breast cancer. Further, she contended that his follow-up procedures and delayed diagnosis did not fall within the standard of care.

The doctor maintained the woman did not complain of armpit swelling or pain until just before he diagnosed her with breast cancer.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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