October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is crucial to spread awareness of breast cancer and promote mammograms, education and support. However, not every diagnosis of breast cancer is accurate. This is an unfortunate reality shown in a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). According to a report by NPR, pathologists often misdiagnose breast cancer.
A delayed or incorrect breast cancer diagnosis can be harmful. Read below for how breast cancer gets misdiagnosed and what complications it can lead to.
How misdiagnosis occurs
Doctors correctly identify invasive breast cancer at a good rate. However, there are a lot of diagnostic errors when it comes to atypia. The JAMA study found that doctors misdiagnosed over half of the cases involving atypia. Physicians misdiagnosed ductal carcinoma 16 percent of the time. This is troubling news because these conditions can eventually become invasive breast cancer.
The effects of misdiagnosis
The JAMA study found that breast cancer is often overdiagnosed or under-diagnosed. When there is a false positive, the patient may undergo an unnecessary surgery for a condition she does not actually have. But if there is a false positive, the patient may not even know she is at risk of invasive breast cancer. Both of these situations can be devastating.
Negligence causes harm
Breast cancer can have fatal consequences. If it is not properly caught in its earliest stages, it is likely to result in severe harm. When a doctor is negligent in his or her diagnosis and causes a patient harm, it may be medical malpractice.
Due to the frequency of diagnostic mistakes of breast cancer, any woman who gets results from a biopsy should get a second opinion. No one should have to undergo unnecessary treatment or be unaware of a deadly condition as it progresses. Second opinions on biopsies can save lives. This Breast Cancer Awareness month, stay aware of breast cancer misdiagnoses.