The results of a new study show that as many as 75 percent of all breast cancer biopsies are misread by pathologists in Wisconsin and across the United States. The study was published by the American Medical Association on March 17.
The authors of the study took the biopsy diagnoses of 100 pathologists and then asked three top breast cancer specialists to diagnose the same tissue samples. The researchers said there were significant differences between the diagnoses of the pathologists and those of the specialists. The findings indicate that a large portion of the approximately 1.6 million women annually who have breast cancer biopsies are misdiagnosed and thus potentially receive incorrect treatment.
Approximately 20 percent of women who receive breast cancer biopsies are diagnosed with cancer each year. Another 60,000 are told they have atypia, which is the presence of abnormal cells within the milk duct. Women who are misdiagnosed may be left untreated for potentially life-threatening cancer or needlessly undergo aggressive treatments for benign conditions. This is of particular concern with atypia, because there is doubt among experts regarding whether the condition is truly pre-cancerous. Due to the research results, the lead author of study said biopsies should no longer be considered the standard tool for detecting breast cancer. Experts advise all women to get a second opinion before undergoing any treatment for breast cancer.
The misdiagnosis of a breast cancer biopsy can in some cases be considered medical negligence. Anyone who has been a victim of biopsy misdiagnosis may wish to consult with an attorney to discuss their available remedies. A lawsuit seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages may be an option.
Source: Health Aim, “Misdiagnosis Of Breast Cancer Biopsies: A Medical Hazard,” Kaustav, March 19, 2015