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A breast biopsy is often misdiagnosed

Many women in the Pittsburgh area will undergo a breast biopsy at some point. In the U.S. over 1.5 million women have them each year. A breast biopsy is performed after a woman finds a lump on her breast or if there is an abnormality found in a mammogram. When one of these things happen, a doctor removes a small amount of tissue, which is then tested.

Breast biopsy tissue is tested by pathologists. According to a recent study, pathologists who analyze biopsies do not always come back with the correct diagnosis. This means that in some cases there is a failure to diagnose certain types of breast cancer which can lead to delayed treatment and a worsened condition. Breast cancer, as with many other cancers, can have a high survival rate if caught early.

In the study the pathologists were given samples of different types of breast cancer including invasive, non-evasive, benign and atypia, which is a high-risk precancerous illness. The pathologists correctly diagnosed the invasive cancer most of the time. But when they analyzed the atypia samples, only 48 percent got it right. This is not good news for women who have had breast biopsies and relied upon their doctor and pathologist's diagnosis.

For women who have had a biopsy this may mean that seeking out a second opinion is a good idea. Cancer treatment is serious and it is important to make sure the diagnosis is correct so that the proper treatment can be sought out.

Source:, "Breast Health: Breast Cancer Biopsies Often Misdiagnosed, May Require A Second Opinion," Susan Scutti, March 20, 2015

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