B.C. woman gets $250,000 after losing breast to cancer misdiagnosis | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. woman gets $250,000 after losing breast to cancer misdiagnosis

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A B.C. woman has been awarded $250,000 after she sued the doctor who recommended she remove her right breast, only to discover that it showed no signs of cancer.

In 2016, Elena Ivanova noticed a lump in her breast and six pathologists at Lions Gate Hospital said a biopsy showed “invasive carcinoma”.

“Ms. Ivanova understood from (her doctor) that she had an “aggressive” form of cancer that led her to believe that removing the cancer was a matter of life or death,” Justice Ronald Skolrood wrote on behalf of the BC Court of Appeal said in a recent decision. "She also believed that her only way to survive was to proceed with a full mastectomy as soon as possible.”

She had breast reconstruction surgery on her right breast as well as her left breast for symmetry. But while she was waiting for those surgeries, she met with her oncologist again and learned the news — a tissue sample of her removed breast showed no signs of cancer.

Dr. Robert Wolber made the diagnosis but said his intention was for a surgeon to perform another biopsy or lumpectomy for further inspection. Other doctors also testified that the correct course of action would be to take another biopsy to confirm. It’s not clear from the decision why the entire breast was removed, other than that Ivanova took that option out of three options presented to her.

She thought she was going to die if she didn’t.

"Ms. Ivanova testified that she experienced significant emotional pain as a result of the mastectomy to her right breast. She considered herself disfigured and ashamed of her body. Physical intimacy with her husband was adversely impacted. These feelings were not ameliorated by the reconstructive surgery,” Skolrood wrote.

As a woman northern European culture, she felt she couldn’t use a sauna anymore and developed a deep mistrust of doctors. She said if she had all the information she has now, she would not have agreed to the surgery.

A jury awarded her $400,000 in damages at trial, finding Dr. Wolber “wrote that ALL he was seeking was a 'simple' excision. He testified to surprise that this did not happen. He diagnosed one illness and recommended treatment for another. This was unclear, contradictory and below the standard of care for a reasonably prudent pathologist.”

But the reason the decision was before the B.C. Court of Appeals is because Dr. Wobler challenged the damages award.

Skolrood and a panel of two other justices agreed that $400,000 was “wholly disproportionate” and conceded that even $250,000 was too high but acceptable to show “respect for the jury’s findings.”

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