Breast cancer awareness has been everywhere for the past 20 years. Between commercials, marches, NFL promotions, and more, it seems the concept of breast cancer has been highly publicized, but answers about it are harder to come by. To do our parts in addressing this issue, we put together this handy guide explaining a few key things you should know about breast cancer.
How Common Is Breast Cancer?
At current rates, about 13% of women, nearly 1-in-8, will develop breast cancer in their lives, and there’s some evidence to suggest that number is slowly increasing. That makes breast cancer one of the most common kinds of cancer in America, second only to skin cancer. Put another way: of American women diagnosed with cancer, nearly 1-in-3 have breast cancer.
Worth mentioning is that breast cancer is relatively rare among women under the age of 45. The average age of diagnosis is in the mid-60s. That said, African American women are more likely to develop breast cancer and develop it at a younger age.
How Serious is Breast Cancer?
The good news is breast cancer is highly treatable, with a mortality rate lower than 3% and a 90% five-year survival rate. However, because breast cancer is so common, adding more than 250,000 diagnoses each year, it remains the third leading cause of death for women after heart disease and lung cancer. In total, an estimated 44,000 American women die of breast cancer each year.
While the sheer volume seems grim, it’s important to recognize that survival rates are increasing thanks to medical science. Each year in the past decade, there has been a roughly 1% increase in survival rates, particularly among older women. That means someone diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022 is about 10% more likely to survive than if they were diagnosed in 2012.
Can Men Develop Breast Cancer?
Though rare, men can, in fact, develop breast cancer. On average, about 3,000 American men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Of those, about 530 die from the disease. Men also have a significantly lower 5-year survival rate, about 10% lower than women.
What Are My Treatment Options?
There are a variety of treatment options for breast cancer which will depend on your diagnosis, stage of progression, and doctor’s knowledge. The most common options are surgery to remove tumors, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, and more. Each of these comes with its own immediate risks and long-term effects, so be sure to fully discuss any treatment with your doctor.
What If My Doctor Won’t Diagnose?
If you’ve consulted your doctor about a lump and they refuse to run further tests, you should seek a second opinion as soon as possible. Time is of the essence in any cancer case and each week you wait is more time for cancer to spread or even metastasize and affect other parts of the body.
That said, the more common cause of a failure to diagnose breast cancer is improperly reading a mammogram. One study found that 50% of mammogram interpretations were different when viewed by a second doctor. This is arguably worse because it gives you a false sense of security that nothing is wrong until you experience worsening symptoms.
Patients who have received negative results rather than no results at all are much more likely to drop the issue until something happens that directly affects their health. If you are at all concerned about your test results, consider getting a second opinion.
How Can I Pursue Justice?
If you experienced a delayed diagnosed or a missed diagnosis and your cancer became worse, as a result, you may be able to file a medical malpractice case. If your attorney can demonstrate that the doctor broke their standard of care and that another physician of similar skill would have identified your cancer early on (and perhaps made for an easier treatment process), you may be able to recover compensation. To find out if your case qualifies as medical malpractice, contact an attorney from The Mabrey Firm today.
To schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice attorney from The Mabrey Firm, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (404) 814-5098 or send us an email.