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Breast cancer biopsies may be misdiagnosed

New research is shedding light on the misdiagnosis of breast cancer in Ohio and the rest of the U.S. Every year, breast cancer biopsies are performed on about 1.6 million women nationwide. Approximately 10 percent will receive a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ, but it should not be confused with invasive types of breast cancer.

Physicians disagree on whether DCIS should even be considered breast cancer. These suspicious cells located in the milk ducts are called atypia, but the life-threatening potential is not established. A doctor and professor at University of Washington School of Medicine said it is not the same as invasive cancer. A woman whose biopsy shows DCIS should get a second opinion before deciding on any treatment, as women are potentially being over-treated for breast cancer when it is not necessary.

Under-treatment of invasive cancer is also likely. A study that assessed 100 pathologists given breast biopsy samples to read revealed that misinterpretations could be happening as much as 75 percent of the time, according to a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. With so much apparent uncertainty regarding breast biopsies, the potential for breast disease to be missed or overblown remains high.

An individual who believes that their cancer was missed or they received unnecessary treatment might decide to speak with an attorney. These errors could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. An attorney might be able to help their client determine if medical records can prove negligence on part of the physician or hospital. Compensation for medical bills or punitive damages if over-treatment occurred might be appropriate, depending on the situation.

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