Breast Cancer Missed, Victim Wins $15M in Malpractice Suit

The woman had a marble-sized lump that a doctor first said was not malignant.

A Long Island breast cancer victim has been awarded $15 million in a malpractice suit against her doctor after her cancer was initially missed, despite a lump in her breast.

Stephanie Tesoriero, 50, had claimed the doctor misdiagnosed her cancer, costing her precious time in fighting the disease.

"This could have all been avoided," Tesoriero said.

The mother of three first discovered a marble-sized lump in her breast in 2002. 

After reviewing her mammogram, Dr. Paul Fisher of the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center in Stony Brook concluded there was "no evidence of malignancy."  He ordered no further tests, according to Tesoriero.

The doctor instructed her to return for a normal exam in about a year, Tesoriero said. But the lump didn't go away.

And when she received more tests 16 months later, Tesoriero said, another doctor found that the lump was as big as a golf ball. He determined it was, in fact, breast cancer.

"Why didn't they find it the first time?" Tesoriero asked. "Why didn't they go the extra step and do a sonogram?"

A mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments all followed and, for a time, the cancer went into remission. That's when Tesoriero decided to sue her doctor.

The two-week trial ended Wednesday with a jury of six women approving the multimillion-dollar award.

Two calls to Fisher's lawyer were not returned. He remains on staff at the Baldwin Breast Care Center, but since the center itself was not named in the lawsuit and oversaw Tesoriero's later treatment, a spokeswoman offered no comment.

"They found him negligent because he was," said her lawyer Robert Fallarino. "There was something there, something she felt, and it needed to be evaluated and if it had been, we would not be here now."

"I just wanted him to admit he made a mistake," Tesoriero said of her doctor. "Doctors do make mistakes."

Tesoriero's cancer fight is far from over. The cancer has returned and has spread to her bones.

The prognosis is uncertain, her lawyer said. Tesoriero must now undergo chemotherapy treatments nearly every week for the rest of her life.

"I don't want to see anybody else go through this," Tesoriero said.  "It's a tough fight."

Tesoriero has spoken out, she said, to sound a warning for other women.

"If you have any suspicions, any doubts," she said, "speak to the doctor and ask for another test."

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