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How Often is Breast Cancer Misdiagnosed?

The rate of breast cancer misdiagnosis ranges from 10 percent to 30 percent. UC Davis Health reports that half of the women who received annual mammograms for a decade experienced a false positive. Similarly, overdiagnosis of breast cancer is a growing problem, especially for older women. On the other hand, health professionals often miss inflammatory breast cancer, causing it to progress without receiving timely treatment.

If you or a loved one has experienced breast cancer misdiagnosis in New York, contact our medical malpractice attorneys at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP. We have helped many clients throughout New York and nationwide obtain significant monetary compensation. Since 1971, we have successfully recovered over $2 billion for our clients. We’re ready to help you seek the restitution you deserve during this difficult time.


Call us at (212) 684-1880 or contact us online today to request your free and confidential consultation.

Common Types of Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis

A cancer misdiagnosis involves medical malpractice. We understand the trauma of a cancer diagnosis and its impact on our clients’ lives, and we will fight to hold those healthcare professionals responsible for your cancer misdiagnosis. These cases are complex and require astute legal representation with outside resources to build a sound case.

A misdiagnosis can manifest in many different ways, including the following:

Missed or Delayed Diagnosis

Because breast cancer can be complex to diagnose, doctors should perform multiple tests. If a doctor relies on one test or mammogram, that can give rise to medical negligence–especially if the patient reports other symptoms and they do not investigate them.

This is especially common with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Health professionals often mistake it for breast infection because it may not present with a lump. Consequently, 30 percent of patients with this condition do not receive that initial diagnosis until stage four, when the cancer is much more challenging to treat and survival rates are low.

False Positives

When a false positive occurs, a patient usually undergoes additional testing but then later receives a diagnosis of no cancer. Patients are relieved to be cancer-free in the end, but the initial false positive may have cost them. The study at UC Davis states, “Despite the important benefit of screening mammography in reducing breast cancer mortality, it can lead to extra imaging and biopsy procedures, financial and opportunity costs, and patient anxiety.”


Overdiagnosis occurs when doctors find dormant breast cancers during a screening and pursue aggressive therapy. However, these cancers would have remained dormant and would not have posed a threat to the person during their lifetime. Consequently, pursuing treatment may reduce the patient’s quality of life. This is more common among women who are 70 and older.

Impacts of Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis

Breast cancer misdiagnosis often has serious repercussions for patients and their loved ones. In the worst-case scenario, patients might not survive. Others may lose more breast tissue than they otherwise would have needed to if diagnosed early, while some received a mastectomy, which they didn’t need.

Other impacts of breast cancer misdiagnosis include the following:

  • Delayed or missed treatment, leading to a worsened prognosis.
  • Increased financial burden from unnecessary medical tests and treatments.
  • Emotional distress and anxiety for the patient and their family.
  • Negative impact on quality of life due to unnecessary treatments or side effects of medications.

Some false positives may remain for some time, even after additional testing. Patients may make significant financial decisions with the expectation of paying for cancer treatments, such as liquidating stock, withdrawing early from their retirement accounts, or selling their homes. When they later discover they do not have cancer, it can be difficult or impossible for them to reverse these decisions.

If you have suffered due to a cancer misdiagnosis, Please Contact Our Firm to discuss your legal options.

Compensation Available for Cancer Misdiagnosis

Compensation depends on the manner in which the misdiagnosis affected your life and the severity of that impact. An attorney can work closely with you to quantify this and help ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses.

Medical Bills

Medical bills are usually the most significant expense for someone who has received a cancer misdiagnosis. For example, breast cancer treatment costs range from $10,000 to $200,000. Even with health insurance, a person could be liable for 10 percent to 30 percent of that amount, depending on their policy.

Patients may also need medical care beyond the initial treatment, especially if they experience side effects from unnecessary medications. The attorney will take into account these future expenses as well.

Lost Wages

You may claim these economic losses if you miss work or quit a job because of the expectation of lengthy treatments. Similarly, suppose you were about to receive a promotion or take another job with higher pay, but it fell through due to a misdiagnosis. Those lost opportunities may be included in the economic damages.

Reduced Quality of Life

Some cancer treatments have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. For example, radiation can burn the skin and cause severe pain and fatigue. Chemotherapy may leave people susceptible to nausea, infection, and mouth sores. Some treatments can also ruin a person’s hopes of starting a family. Not everyone wants children, but those who do could face expensive fertility treatments.

Schedule a Free Consultation for Your Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis

A breast cancer misdiagnosis is traumatizing. Every case is different, but you should also document your case extensively. This information can help our attorneys determine negligence and build a compelling case for damages.

Our experienced team at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman carefully reviews evidence to determine an appropriate action. Our dedication and skill have helped us recover numerous significant awards for our clients.

Request a free consultation today or call us at (212) 684-1880. Since we work on a contingency fee basis, you will not pay attorney’s fees unless we win compensation for your damages and losses.