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Misdiagnosis of Early Stage Breast Cancer

A breast cancer diagnosis brings with it an array of burdens. Among them are frequent trips to the doctor, possible hospitalization, and any number of treatments which can have permanent repercussions. However, perhaps the worst of all is the emotional stress one feels upon hearing a cancer diagnosis.

New technologies can detect breast cancer at stage 0, also known as carcinoma in situ. On the surface, this is a medical advancement which has the potential to save many lives moving forward. However, cancers detected at this early stage can easily be misdiagnosed.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) are two breast cancers detected at stage 0. While most woman think of biopsies as being infallible in terms of diagnosing breast cancer, some reports indicate that upwards of 17 percent of DCIS incidences diagnosed via fine-needle biopsy are misdiagnosed. That percentage has prompted the federal government to begin funding a national study to further evaluate the problem.

Currently, there are no mandated requirements or diagnostic standards for pathologists who are reading and evaluating biopsies, which can lead to errors caused by inexperienced or lack of expertise.

According to a study by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a breast cancer survivor’s group, approximately 90,000 women diagnosed with DCIS or invasive breast cancer either didn’t actually have cancer or were recommended incorrect treatment due to pathologist error. 

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