Specialists Commonly Overlook Red Flags for Breast Cancer Risks, New Study Finds
April 6, 2015
A breast biopsy study conducted at Oregon Health & Science University has found that, when it comes to identifying the red flags for cancer risks in biopsies, breast tissue specialists are often overlooking or misinterpreting the presence of certain lesions.
The findings of this study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, have triggered a call not only for more research on this matter but also for the development of better diagnostic techniques.
A Closer Look at the Study: Why Are these Diagnostic Errors So Common?
The specific “red flag” for breast cancer that this study focused on was atypia, abnormal cell growths have been identified as “high-risk” for cancer (though they do not indicate the presence of cancer definitively). For instance, one type of atypia has been associated with a 17 percent risk of developing breast cancer over a 10-year period.
These lesions, which can be effectively managed with noninvasive treatments, such as hormone therapies, to reduce women’s risk of developing breast cancer, are generally detected through biopsies.
However, what this breast biopsy study found was that breast tissue specialists only agreed with oncology experts about the diagnoses/presence of atypia about 48 percent of the time. As a result, this ended up causing:
- Some patients/study participants to receive far more treatments than necessary.
- About 35 percent of the cases analyzed in this study to not be prescribed ANY ongoing monitoring or follow-up care.
Commenting on these findings, co-leader of this study, Dr. Heidi Nelson, stated:
Some women [who are misdiagnosed] are not getting as much surveillance as they need, while others are getting too much…These are [diagnoses] that we are finding through screening, so we really owe it to women to accurately diagnose what we’re finding and then make the appropriate choices.
So, what can you do as a patient to protect yourself and avoid being harmed by diagnostic errors during breast cancer biopsies? Get a second or third opinion is what researchers say.
Researchers have also stated that, given the findings of this study, more research regarding the diagnostic errors made in breast cancer biopsies needs to be conducted. Additionally, some are calling for more precise guidelines or protocols for reviewing biopsy results.
What do you think about the findings of this study? Share your thoughts and comments with us on Facebook and Google+!
Portland Medical Malpractice Lawyers at the Savage Law Firm
Has medical negligence caused you to develop health complications? If so, you can rely on the Portland medical malpractice attorneys at the Savage Law Firm for experienced help and aggressive legal advocacy. For more than three decades, our lawyers have been devoted to providing each of our clients with personal attention, respect and the highest quality legal services.
Helping you recover from the financial setbacks caused by medical negligence is one of our primary goals. Our Portland medical malpractice attorneys encourage you to learn more about your rights and case by setting up a free initial consult.
To learn more about our legal services and what we can do for you, call us at 503-222-0200 (in Portland) or at 206-957-7272 (in Seattle). You can also email us using the form on this page. We represent clients in communities in both Oregon and Washington from our offices in Portland and Seattle.