Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis – The Facts and How to Pursue a Medical Negligence Claim

Being told you have breast cancer is something that no one wants to go through. But the devastation felt is multiplied if you have been the victim of a breast cancer misdiagnosis.

In this article, we look at the facts surrounding breast cancer misdiagnosis. It also considers the courses of action open to victims who feel they have been subjected to poor or substandard medical care concerning their diagnosis.

Breast Cancer Facts

Although men can suffer from breast cancer, the majority of cases of breast cancer occur in women. Some facts regarding this dreadful disease are detailed below.

  • Around one-in-eight women will be a victim of the disease in their lifetime
  • It is more common after the menopause
  • 20% of diagnoses are in women under the age of 50
  • It is very rare in women under the age of 40
  • The most common form of breast cancer is invasive ductal breast cancer

Symptoms of breast cancer

The earlier a diagnosis is made, the easier the treatment is and the better the outcome. This is why early and correct diagnosis is essential and why misdiagnosis can be so devastating.

The following are some of the more common symptoms that may indicate the presence of cancer:

  • The presence of a lump or thickening in the breast
  • A change in the shape of a nipple or if it inverts
  • Dimples appearing on the skin
  • Nipple rash or a rash around the nipple area
  • Change in the shape or size of a breast
  • A bloody discharge from the nipple
  • Lumps or swelling in the armpit area

It is important to note that cancer is not the only cause of these symptoms, but medical advice should be immediately sought if you note any of these symptoms.

Common Breast Cancer Misdiagnoses

The symptoms that are present in inflammatory breast cancer cases can often be misinterpreted. This occurs when the inflammatory symptoms present in the disease are misdiagnosed as other forms of inflammatory disease.

Two of the more common ones are described below:

  • Mastitis – The symptoms of mastitis are very similar to those of inflammatory breast cancer cases. Symptoms common to both conditions include redness, inflammation, itchiness, firmness, and tenderness of the breast.
  • Fibrocystic breast disease – This disease can cause the breast tissue to feel lumpy or even rope-like. Although this condition can cause pain and discomfort, it is normally benign.

These are two of the common ways that breast cancer can be misdiagnosed. This can happen in two ways – Either the patient is suffering from one of these conditions and is misdiagnosed as having cancer.

Alternatively, the patient may have breast cancer, but it is diagnosed as being one of the aforementioned conditions.

In either case, such a misdiagnosis can have a devastating effect on the patient and the patient’s family and friends.

Common causes of Breast Cancer Misdiagnoses

Despite huge advances in our understanding of the disease and its treatments, proper diagnosis is still difficult. In many cases, even medical care that is competent and includes all the necessary due diligence can still result in a misdiagnosis.

However, many instances of breast cancer misdiagnosis can be traced back to medical incompetence, negligence, carelessness, or malpractice.

Below is a list of some of the common types of medical negligence that can lead to a breast cancer misdiagnosis:

  • Failure to recognise the symptoms and follow up on them
  • Neglecting to perform a biopsy on abnormal tissue samples
  • Not referring the patient for a mammogram or other cancer tests
  • Misinterpreting the results of breast cancer tests
  • A delay in requesting the appropriate treatment

What to do if you think you may have been a victim of Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis:

If you have been through the trauma of a breast cancer misdiagnosis or have suffered from negligent treatment, then you may be entitled to claim compensation. The consequences of a misdiagnosis can be dire for the patient and their family, and compensation and justice are the least a victim and their family deserve.

The first step is to contact a legal representative that specialises in Medical Malpractice and Negligence. Securing the compensation you deserve won’t ease the distress, pain, and suffering that a misdiagnosis leaves in its trail. But it can help to answer questions about why it happened and ease the financial worries that often follow on from breast cancer misdiagnosis.


At James McSweeney Solicitors, we have decades of experience in dealing with medical negligence claims. James McSweeney understands the stress and the trauma that inevitably follow a breast cancer misdiagnosis.

James McSweeney is Ireland’s leading Hospital Negligence Solicitor and has dealt with many high profile cases.  Hospital Negligence and Clinical Negligence claims are probably the most difficult type of litigation cases to win. It is extremely important to choose a legal team that has wide experience.


Contact us today to find out how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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