When It’s Not Really Breast Cancer: Repercussions of a Misdiagnosis
Hearing the words from your doctor, “it’s cancer,” may have sent you into a panic. Life as you knew it became a whirlwind of doctor appointments, hospital stays and radiation treatments.
It Sometimes Comes Down to the Flip of a Coin With the new medical technologies, doctors are able to detect breast cancer at its earliest stage. A biopsy is often used to diagnose ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), also known as Stage 0 breast cancer. However, Dr. Shahla Masood, the head of pathology at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville, told The New York Times, diagnosing DCIS, “is a 30-year history of confusion, differences of opinion and under- and overtreatment. There are studies that show that diagnosing these borderline breast lesions occasionally comes down to the flip of a coin.”
Misdiagnosed breast cancer has become a major issue. According to The New York Times article, “Prone to Error: Steps to Find Cancer,” the federal government is financing a study into breast pathology in response to concerns that “17 percent of DCIS cases identified by commonly used needle biopsy may be misdiagnosed.”
Is It Really Cancer? It is estimated that over 50,000 women are diagnosed with DCIS each year. Many of these patients choose to take radical measures, such as a double mastectomy, surgery or radiation treatment, to overcome this disease. Imagine the shock of patients who take these aggressive steps, when they later find out they never had breast cancer in the first place.