Screening for the BRCA Gene Defect Could Save Lives—If Your Doctor Orders It
Until the cure for breast cancer is found, doctors and researchers alike are focusing on doing what they can to prevent breast cancer-related deaths—and that means identifying and diagnosing cancer as early as possible. Although scientific advancements and medical technologies change and evolve constantly, there are a few testing techniques that seem to be here to stay, and one of them is genetic testing. However, if doctors fail to order the proper tests, or do not read the results accurately or in a timely fashion, they may do so at the cost of a patient’s life.
If you or someone you love was diagnosed with breast cancer, and you are also found to have had a BRCA gene defect and doctors failed to order the proper tests for diagnosis and treatment, you may have a medical malpractice case. To learn more about BRCA testing and timely breast cancer diagnoses, read our blog.
Previous Testing Techniques
In the past, mammograms were the primary form of testing used to identify cancerous growths or activity, but research tells us that these scans report an 80% sensitivity for women with fatty breast tissue and only 40% for women with denser breast tissue. Because younger women typically have denser breast tissue, this means that young mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, aunts, and cousins are more likely to receive inaccurate test results when scanning for cancer. And, although breast cancer is more common among women over 50 years of age, when it does occur in women under 50, the cancer is more likely to be fast-acting and deadly.
The Advantages of Genetic Testing
Nowadays, more and more doctors are seeing the value in thorough, timely genetics testing. By analyzing a patient’s genetic history, doctors can determine which disorders or abnormalities they may be more prone to developing. Once these potential risks are identified, doctors will more accurately and more frequently be able to test for specific conditions that can lead to the development of deadly diseases.
When dealing with the BRCA mutation, a tumor-suppressing gene, it is extremely important to detect the gene as early as possible. Although these genes are rare, they are extremely dangerous. Women with the BRCA mutation are 50% more likely to develop breast cancer before their 50th birthdays, and they face an 85% risk of developing breast cancer at some point in their lifetimes. However, if genetic testing is used to identify the cancer early, those cancerous tumors could be removed, cancer cells might be minimized through radiation and chemotherapy—and ultimately, that early diagnosis could save a life.
When a Doctor Fails to Order the Proper Tests
If you have a strong family history of gynecologic or breast cancer, especially if those cancers often developed at early ages (before 50 years old), your doctor should consider the possibility that you carry the BRCA mutation. If you have a potential family history of the gene, or if you exhibit symptoms of breast cancer, your family doctor or your OB/GYN has a responsibility to provide you with timely, accurate cancer screening. If your doctor fails to provide adequate screenings, fails to read the results in time, reads the results inaccurately, fails to diagnose, or makes any other type of error, they could be liable for the harm you suffer as a result.
Likewise, if screening results are read incorrectly, it may lead to a misdiagnosis, which can be life-altering in a completely different way. What if, for example, a woman is diagnosed with the BRCA mutation and she undergoes surgery for the removal of her ovaries and breasts at her doctor’s request, only to find out she was misdiagnosed? The woman would no longer be able to have children naturally, she would have to undergo a long, potentially painful recovery from surgery, and she might also deal with other health complications as a result—all because her doctor made a grave mistake.
Do I Have a Case?
If you were diagnosed with breast cancer and there was a family history of breast or gynecological cancer in you or your immediate family but you were deprived of a family history screening for the BRCA gene defect, you may have a strong medical malpractice case. The genetic screening tests could have detected the BRCA gene earlier and with better results than other, less conclusive tests. Had the mutation been detected, the patient would have received more frequent screening through more advanced methods precisely because of the increased risk of cancer. Failure to have discovered the BRCA gene in a patient, therefore, deprives them of an earlier diagnosis when breast cancer occurs, at a time when there is a much better chance of a complete cure. It loses the patient medical treatment immediately, which could have saved them, and their families, untold amounts of pain and suffering. If you think you have a case, our firm pursues medical malpractice cases, including those involving a failure to recommend genetic testing for breast cancer.
Our team at The Donnelly Law Firm understands how difficult these types of situations can be, whether you are a cancer survivor or the family of someone who battled breast cancer. We know the types of challenges you’re facing, and we want to help you pursue justice and compensation. Filing a claim will not undo the cancer diagnosis, but it can help you and your family move forward in peace and comfort.
Contact The Donnelly Law Firm to discuss your potential case with our team.