Sep 11

Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis

According to an ABC News report, some 37 million women in America schedule a routine mammogram each year. After all, we have been told repeatedly by “experts” that having regular mammograms can catch breast cancer early, increasing our odds of survival. Unfortunately, what we are not told is that biopsy results can be wrong, and that second opinions are essential. In 2006, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization released a study which estimated that at least 4 percent of breast cancer diagnoses were incorrect—that’s 90,000 people currently living with breast cancer who were misdiagnosed.

According to Boston Magazine, breast cancer is one of the most often misdiagnosed cancers. Breast cancer statistics are scary—according to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is expected to affect one in every eight women across the nation. This means that nearly a quarter of a million women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year alone, while another 61,000 will develop an early form of non-invasive breast cancer. In short, breast cancer claims more than 40,000 lives each year.  The statistics on how many cases of breast cancer are misdiagnosed vary according to the individual study. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported error rates in diagnosing breast cancer as high as 71 percent—in specific situations, and most often when the woman’s doctor does not specialize in breast cancer. The New England Journal of Medicine believes nearly a third of all breast cancer cases are misdiagnosed.

Misdiagnosing DCIS

Some 20 percent of newly diagnosed breast cancers are known as ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS. DCIS breast cancer is considered “pre-cancer,” by many doctors, in that the cells which line the breast ducts may appear cancerous, but no cancer cells have actually spread into the breast tissues or the breast ducts. Generally, DCIS is considered non-invasive, but in some instances, and without proper treatment, DCIS can turn invasive—and deadly. This means that a delay in the diagnosis of DCIS could potentially make a life-altering difference regarding recovery and survival.  

Misdiagnosing IDC

Infiltrating forms of breast cancer are known as invasive ductal carcinomas and account for 80 percent of invasive types of breast cancer. In IDC breast cancer, the cancerous cells begin in a milk duct, then spread into the surrounding breast tissues. IDC breast cancer can metastasize beyond the breast into the lymph nodes, or to other parts of the body. When IDC breast cancer is not identified early, it can potentially spread throughout the body. Although the surest way to definitively diagnose breast cancer is via a biopsy, physicians and lab techs can sometimes make errors which lead to a failure to diagnose. Such a failure to diagnose can, in some cases, lead to the spread of the cancer, and even death.

False Positive Breast Cancer Readings

On the flip side, mammograms can result in false positive readings, resulting in a healthy woman undergoing such damaging treatments as chemotherapy or radiation—or even having an unneeded mastectomy performed.  A misdiagnosed biopsy can have the same effect—A Today Show segment concluded that the pathologists who read the biopsy reports only correctly recognize precancerous cells about half the time. Nearly a million and a half women will undergo a breast biopsy this year, yet less than half the time the pathologists’ diagnoses will agree with the eventual correct diagnosis. This means women all too often subjected to either overtreatment for a disease they do not have, or potentially a fatal undertreatment. Since neither of these scenarios is positive, it is crucial that women take the time and effort to always get a second opinion.  

Contact Our Oregon Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today

If you or someone you love has been the victim of breast cancer misdiagnosis, it is important to review all of your legal rights. If medical negligence has occurred, your health care professional can be held responsible for their errors and for the harm you have suffered. Keith Dozier and his associates have successfully recovered millions for injured patients in Portland, Vancouver, Lake Oswego, Salem, and throughout the state of Oregon. Call us today at (503) 594-0333 for a free initial consultation and review of your case.

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