One out of every eight women develops BREAST CANCER over her lifetime, resulting in the diagnosis of over 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer (and 70,000 cases of non-invasive breast cancer) every year in the United States. Common breast cancers include ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), invasive ductal carcinoma, and invasive lobular carcinoma. Less frequent types include inflammatory breast cancer, Paget disease of the nipple, and angiosarcoma. Many cancers are related to lifestyle risks, though some have a genetic component such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.
Breast cancer specialists include both physicians and surgeons. Physicians are generally Oncologists (Internal Medicine doctors with two years of additional fellowship training in Oncology) who devote part or all of their practice to the care of breast cancer patients. Physicians may also be Radiation Oncologists who complete a 5-year residency in the treatment of cancer using various energy fields. Surgeons may be either General Surgery experts, Surgical Oncologists, or Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. Surgeons may operate on other regions of the body, though many specialize in breast cancer.
Most breast cancer litigation alleges delays in diagnosis and/or treatment. As with all oncology cases, causation is the critical element since the sentinel question is whether a delay in breast cancer treatment caused or substantially contributed to a patient’s harm. Whether from the field of Medical Oncology, Surgical Oncology, General Surgery, or Radiation Oncology, breast cancer expert witnesses educate the trier of fact on the nature, extent, and prognosis of various types of breast cancer.