Many women undergo biopsies in order to confirm a diagnosis of breast cancer and rely on the results to tell them what treatment is needed. A recent study showed that while pathologists agree most of the time about the diagnosis of cancer and normal tissue, pathologists have trouble agreeing on the diagnosis of pre-cancerous conditions. Many women could be put at risk for a range of consequences associated with such diagnostic misinterpretations.
The findings of the study go on to suggest that women that receive a misdiagnosis from a breast-cancer biopsy could be at risk of undergoing unnecessary treatment. In addition to the inappropriate treatment, the patient could experience unwarranted emotional distress over being informed of a pre-cancerous condition. Alternatively, women may not know their risk of developing breast cancer if their pathologist fails to identify a pre-cancerous condition. A misdiagnosis could put the patient at risk of the condition worsening over time.