Beebe and O'Neil

Study shows breast cancer biopsies often misdiagnosed

The results of a new study show that pathologists may be misreading the breast cancer biopsies of women in Connecticut and across the United States as much as 75 percent of the time. The research was published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" on March 17.

The authors of the study asked three top breast cancer specialists to review the biopsy diagnoses of 100 pathologists and compare them to their own interpretations of the tissue samples. The specialists noted significant discrepancies between their diagnoses and the diagnoses of the pathologists. The findings indicate that the breast cancer biopsies of many women are misdiagnosed, and they are either over-treated or under-treated as a result.

Approximately 1.6 million U.S. women are given breast cancer biopsies each year. Of those, around 20 percent are diagnosed with breast cancer. Another 60,000 women are diagnosed with atypia, which is the presence of abnormal cells in the milk duct. However, there is doubt among experts that this condition is cancerous and calls for treatment.

The lead author of the study said biopsies are no longer considered the standard diagnostic tool for detecting breast cancer. Experts advise all women faced with a possible breast cancer diagnosis to get a second opinion before undergoing any treatment. This could reduce the amount of patients who suffer from undetected, untreated breast cancer and patients who endure needless treatments for a condition that is not life-threatening.

Any Connecticut resident who believes they have been the victim of medical malpractice, such as breast cancer biopsy misdiagnosis, may benefit by consulting with an attorney. In some cases, it may be possible to hold the responsible doctor or hospital liable for their actions in civil court. By filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, the victim could be awarded compensation for the medical costs and pain and suffering.

Source: Health Aim, "Misdiagnosis Of Breast Cancer Biopsies: A Medical Hazard," Kaustav, March 19, 2015

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