Oregon Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Attorneys

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Failure to Warn of Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects

When you're diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the first things you want to know is what your treatment options are. You may be in such distress from your diagnosis that you have only one concern: which treatment is going to be the most effective.

Obviously, treatment effectiveness is a critically important issue. But as the shock of your diagnosis fades, you realize that there are other factors to be considered in making your treatment decision, including quality of life.

There may be trade-offs to make. Your doctor may recommend a chemotherapy regimen that may cause you to feel worse on treatment days or shortly after treatment than another regimen. However, if your doctor's recommended treatment is more effective in the long run, you will likely be willing to take the recommended course of action.

But what if your doctor recommended one chemotherapy drug over another, knowing that drug might have long-term side effects you were unaware of? We count on our doctors to give us complete information about treatment options, so that we can make the best possible decisions and give informed consent to treatment. When they don't tell us everything we need to know, our decisions often differ from what we would otherwise have chosen. Failure to adequately warn a patient of the side effects of cancer treatment may amount to medical malpractice.

Taxotere Lawsuits and Lack of Informed Consent

Failure to give a patient treatment information that might alter her decisions regarding treatment means that she cannot give informed consent to treatment. When a patient consents to treatment without adequate information from her medical provider, and harm results, that's the definition of medical malpractice.

More and more cases involving lack of informed consent are arising regarding the breast cancer drug Taxotere (docetaxel). Taxotere came on the market in the mid-1990s and was billed as a more-effective alternative to Taxol (paclitaxel), which had been introduced a few years earlier. With the encouragement of Sanofi-Aventis, Taxotere's manufacturer, many doctors recommended Taxotere to their understandably desperate breast cancer patients.

Breast cancer is a devastating diagnosis to receive, not only because of the threat to life that it poses, but because it carries the risk of physical disfigurement. To add insult to injury, chemotherapy for breast cancer typically causes hair loss. Most women are willing to endure this in order to regain their health, especially because the hair loss is usually temporary.

Therein lies the rub with Taxotere. Sanofi-Aventis likely knew, or at least should have known, that its product caused long-term alopecia, or hair loss, in a significant number of patients. Some women might have chosen to take the drug, even with this risk, if it was truly more effective. However, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 showed otherwise.

As a result of the actions of Sanofi-Aventis, and possibly their doctors, many women consented to treatment with Taxotere. They were subjected to a drug that was more toxic, but no more effective, than an alternative already on the market.

If You Were Not Informed About Your Breast Cancer Treatment's Side Effects

If you agreed to be treated with Taxotere because either your doctor or the manufacturer of the drug failed to provide you with the knowledge you needed to make an informed treatment decision, you may have a case against them. Consider discussing your situation with an experienced Oregon medical malpractice attorney. As a breast cancer patient, you've been through enough. You shouldn't have to also suffer unnecessary and perhaps permanent side effects.

You had the right to expect complete and honest information from your doctor and the drug manufacturer. If you didn't get it, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries their failure caused you. To learn more about breast cancer treatment side effects and medical malpractice in Oregon, and whether pursuing a case is in your best interests, contact Huegli Fraser to schedule a free consultation.

Blog Disclaimer

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent medical malpractice attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

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