New Mexico residents may be interested to learn that a new study found that cancer pathologists often misdiagnose breast tissue, which suggests some patients receive over-aggressive or under-aggressive treatment. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on March 17, matched 240 diagnoses made by 115 U.S. pathologists against the opinions of three experts. The results showed that biopsy specialists could accurately diagnose invasive breast cancer, but their ability to correctly diagnose less serious forms of cancer and healthy breast tissue was found lacking.
For example, pathologists in the sample accurately identified abnormal, precancerous cells in only around 50 percent of the cases. About 30 percent of the cases were misdiagnosed as normal, and 17 percent were determined to be suspicious or cancerous. Given that up to 160,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with precancerous cells each year, the results indicate that many patients are receiving the wrong treatment. The pathologists also misclassified healthy breast tissue as suspicious in 13 percent of the cases and had trouble identifying abnormal cells in the milk duct, a condition known as DCIS, 13 percent of the time.
The researchers noted that the study was an experiment and may not reflect actual results in a real-world setting. It was also noted that the article did not include information on patient outcomes, so it is not known if the three experts made the correct diagnoses.
This study underscores the importance of getting a second opinion when faced with a cancer diagnosis. Anyone who has been a victim of a medical professional’s failure to diagnose cancer may wish to consult an attorney to discuss their legal options. It may be possible to obtain a financial settlement that covers medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Source: CBS Boston, “Study: Biopsy Specialists Frequently Misdiagnose Breast Tissue,” Lindsey Tanner, March 17, 2015