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Advances for breast cancer patients


A breast cancer diagnosis can be a terrifying prospect, but Oregon women may appreciate the positive strides made during 2016 in connection with this disease. Surgery and chemotherapy are common treatments, but there can be challenges if cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumor. Additionally, diagnosis is often made via mammogram, but there is a great deal of potential for error in these tests.

One of the most important discoveries during the year involved the success of using combined drugs to target tumors. A two-drug combination was used to treat a group of more than 250 women, and in 11 percent of these cases, the tumors were completely gone after just a couple of weeks. Although that might seem insignificant, the reality is that resistance to chemotherapy drugs can occur quickly, impeding or preventing reduction or elimination of a tumor. The success of the drugs used in this particular test offers hope that more targeted drug combinations could produce better treatment results without surgery.

Research in the United Kingdom also identified more than 90 genes that could contribute to an individual’s potential for developing breast cancer. Additionally, research has made the prospect of blood tests for identifying breast cancer more likely in the near future. Because of a 16 percent error rate with mammograms, more reliable options could be helpful in minimizing issues such as a failure to detect cancer.

A failure to diagnose could create serious or even deadly consequences for a patient, but it is important to understand that this does not always constitute malpractice. Some diseases are rather difficult to diagnose and could take many years or even decades of medical care to identify. However, the negligence of a treating physician could be a matter of medical malpractice if there are clear signs of that ignoring a patient’s symptoms, failing to order appropriate tests, or refusing to schedule appropriate therapies or treatments.