A new study alleges that roughly 75 percent of women from Florida to Alaska receive misdiagnoses of breast cancer due to improper biopsy interpretation. In the study, 100 pathologists were given biopsies from breast tissue and asked to review them. Three trial judges who reviewed the pathologists’ findings reported significant discrepancies, raising serious questions about the reliability of breast cancer biopsies and those who diagnose based on them.
Health care professionals have long regarded biopsy as the gold standard for identifying breast cancer and other abnormalities, but the lead author of the study says the results suggest biopsies are nowhere near as reliable as previously thought. This results in women being both over- and under-treated for breast-related anomalies. Any woman incorrectly cleared of cancer may be delayed critical treatment for the disease.
The study’s lead author says women who have received breast biopsies should always receive a minimum of a second opinion before deciding to proceed with treatment, due to the apparent high failure rate of pathological examination. Additionally, other types of anomalies such as atypia or ductal carcinoma in situ may be misdiagnosed as active breast cancer instead of a relatively benign issue.
An attorney examining a case in which a client claims that their physician failed to diagnose a serious condition may begin by obtaining the opinion of a neutral third-party pathologist to bear out or disprove the initial findings. The attorney might then issue an offer of settlement based upon current and projected future damages, including loss of income, expenses for unnecessary treatment and pain and suffering.