Breast implants and cancer: Misdiagnosis and medical malpractice

The FDA provides some guidance on when breast implants can lead to cancer.

Recent data confirms a link between the presence of breast implants and the development of cancer. The cancer that can result is not a form of breast cancer, but a type of lymphoma — Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

What is BIA-ALCL?

The disease can present itself with symptoms of pain and tenderness near the site of the implants. Asymmetry and the presence of lumps are also signs that an individual may suffer from the disease. Awareness of this disease is spreading. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a publication that delves into the disease, noting that the federal agency first became aware of the connection between breast implants and ALCL in 2011.

Since then, the FDA has called for medical professionals to recognize the possibility of this disease. Although BIA-ALCL is relatively rare, the agency calls on physicians to take it into consideration when attempting to diagnose a patient that has the above noted symptoms.

Are those who develop BIA-ALCL victims of malpractice?

The answer to this question depends on the details of each, individual case. For those who have sought medical care and presented these symptoms and were not tested for the disease, a medical malpractice claim may exist. This would likely qualify for a failure to diagnose the cancer.

This type of claim generally falls into an area of law referred to as negligence. In order to build a successful claim, the victim must establish that the physician had a duty to provide care to the victim, this duty was breached, the breach resulted in an injury and the injury was damaging to the victim. The duty generally exists whenever there is a patient/doctor relationship. A breach can be established if the physician’s level of care failed to meet that which is accepted in his or her field. This generally requires expert testimony. The patient must next show that this failure resulted in the damage from the disease. Various pieces of evidence could be used to support this claim, including results from tests showing the cancer progressed when it could have halted if the patient received medical intervention.

What should I do if I believe I am a victim of medical malpractice?

Those who believe they are the victims of medical malpractice are wise to seek legal counsel. An experienced failure to diagnose cancer attorney can review the details of your situation and tailor a case to your circumstances, better ensuring that your interests are protected.