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False-negative results on mammograms lead to delayed treatment

A false-negative result on a mammogram, where the cancer is either overlooked or doesn’t show on test, occurs in 1 out of every 2,500 women.

Young women, because of their denser breast tissue, are particularly vulnerable to false-negative results. Other times, the radiologist just isn’t as skilled as he or she should be, and an obvious issue on the x-ray film is missed.

Unfortunately for many victims, they relied on the false-negative test for a sense of reassurance that everything was well, and they ignored signs that a cancer was growing in their breasts until treatment was much more difficult than it would have been. Most of the time, that’s because they were completely misinformed about the likelihood of a false-negative test in the first place.

A lot of doctors put too much faith in the modern medical system and too little faith in their patient’s instincts. If a patient has felt a lump, has bleeding from his or her nipple, experienced a change in breast tissue, has a strong family history of breast cancer in his or her direct male or female relatives or simply has a feeling that he or she is unwell, the physician should view a negative test result with suspicion.

It’s better to rerun the test unnecessarily than trust a false-negative and send a concerned patient home with assurances that all is well while cancer continues to grow in his or her breast.

Ignoring a patient’s complaint or family history in favor of a negative test result also ignores the possibility that the radiologist isn’t as skilled as he or she could be — sometimes early changes in breast tissue that indicate cancer are relatively subtle. Perhaps radiologists may also be affected by an unintentional bias — if they see a younger patient, they don’t expect to see cancer, so they miss it on the films.

Anyone who has been the victim of a false-negative breast cancer screening should consider talking to an attorney about the possibility of a lawsuit. For more information on how we approach personal injury claims like these, please visit our page.

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