Every year, about 240,000 women face breast cancer diagnoses. While breast cancer is a concerning health issue, the accuracy is equally important. The misdiagnosis statistics can help shed light on the challenges patients face when receiving a timely diagnosis.
Breast cancer misdiagnosis may be more common than you think.
How often does misdiagnosis occur?
Misdiagnosis of any illness occurs around 5% of the time. With overdiagnosis of breast cancer being 31% for women between 70 and 74 and 47% for women between 75 and 84. Additionally, mammograms may miss about 12% of all breast cancers.
Misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis can both create a dangerous situation for the patient. Overdiagnosis causes women to undergo strenuous treatment that can severely damage their health. While a missed breast cancer diagnosis can allow the cancer to spread.
Patients with an early diagnosis of breast cancer may have a 99% survival rate after five years. Those diagnosed in later stages may only have a 30% survival rate.
What factors contribute to misdiagnosis?
Several factors contribute to misdiagnosis. First, interpreting mammograms or other imaging tests can alter the diagnosis. For example, a doctor may diagnose a lump as a benign cyst when, in fact, it is a cancerous tumor. Poor interpretation can occur due to the complex nature of breast tissue and the varying appearance of tumors. Likewise, unclear communication between doctors and patients can result in misdiagnosis.
Misdiagnosis of breast cancer has far-reaching consequences. Regular breast self-exams can reduce misdiagnosis in addition to second opinions and advanced imagining technologies.