Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Breast Cancer MisdiagnosisJune 10, 2015
Each year in the U.S., approximately 1.6 million breast biopsies are performed, usually in response to a suspicious mammogram. For these patients and their families, it is important that pathologists accurately read the test results. But according to a recent study, as many as one in four breast biopsies are incorrectly diagnosed – resulting in unnecessary invasive treatments for some, and under-treatment or delayed treatment for others.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, involved 115 U.S. pathologists and 240 breast biopsy specimens. The pathologists were given 6,900 slides and asked to check for evidence of breast cancer. Each specimen was also inspected by three experts, whose findings were used as a baseline for comparison. The results were alarming and stand to prove that getting a second opinion could be the key to improving a woman’s chances for a successful outcome.
The study found that pathologists correctly diagnosed atypia, or abnormal, precancerous cells only about half time, no better than a coin toss. About a third of these cases involved breast cancer misdiagnosis that were reported to be not as worrisome or normal, while 17% were deemed more suspicious or cancer. Roughly 160,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with atypia each year. The results of this study indicate that many may be getting inappropriate care. Treatment for this condition typically includes frequent monitoring, medication, and in some cases, surgery.
Among cases of invasive carcinoma, the pathologists fared better, agreeing with experts 96% of the time. However, in cases involving ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), concordance was only 84%. Here, 13% of DCIS breast cancer cases were missed by pathologists, and another three percent were mistaken for invasive cancer. DCIS involves abnormal cells confined to a milk duct and is diagnosed in about 60,000 U.S. women each year, making it the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. Because DCIS has the potential to spread and become invasive, patients who are diagnosed usually undergo surgery and radiation.
In samples of normal, healthy tissue, pathologists mistakenly found something suspicious 13% of the time. This mistake has the potential to cause 208,000 U.S. women to be told they have cancer when if fact they do not. These patients may have to undergo unnecessary surgeries, radiation, or even chemotherapy in addition to experiencing the severe emotional trauma that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis
If you or a loved one has suffered a misdiagnosis for a serious illness that led to a delay in treatment or unnecessary treatments, you are urged to seek the immediate advice and counsel of an experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer. At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, our attorneys have helped countless victims of medical malpractice and their families recover maximum compensation through medical malpractice lawsuits. To discuss your possible claim, call 800-547-4LAW (4529) today to schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland or contact us online.
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