Feature Archive

Missing the Diagnosis

When a mammogram fails, does a woman have the right to sue?

WebMD Feature

April 3, 2000 (Chantilly, Va.) -- Carol Fubini thought she was safe from breast cancer after her radiologist reported that her latest mammogram showed no evidence of the disease.

Then 43, Fubini had received similar reports after three other mammograms over the previous five years. Her latest, she thought, was yet another clean bill of health.

Several months later, however, her confidence was shattered: while doing a routine exam of her left breast, Fubini found a lump. A biopsy was performed. It showed that Fubini had cancer -- specifically, a ductal adenocarcinoma that eventually was determined to have spread to her lymph nodes.

Fubini had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. She also fought back in another way: filing a lawsuit against the radiologist she believes should have detected her cancer before she did.

"I had started wondering afterward how I could have fairly advanced cancer -- they said I was stage three -- when I had had a mammogram six months before I felt this lump," she said. "I really started to think about whether something had been overlooked."

A Major Case That Sent Shock Waves

Last May, after just three hours of deliberation, a Massachusetts jury awarded Fubini $5.5 million, one of the largest malpractice awards in state history.