Over the past few decades, medical professionals have significantly improved their ability to diagnose and treat breast cancer. As long as you do a self-examination about once a month and start annual mammograms at age 45, you and your medical care team should be able to detect any possible cancer long before it becomes life-threatening. Unfortunately, when it comes to distinguishing whether or not a lump is cancerous, we are still working within an imperfect system. So can breast cancer be misdiagnosed?
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Being Diagnosed: Can Breast Cancer Be Misdiagnosed?
If your initial mammogram reveals the presence of a lump, then your doctor will want to proceed with further diagnostic testing. They may do a second mammogram to get a better look at the suspected lump. Sometimes the presence of the lump still can’t be explained. In this case, your doctor will want to move forward to more invasive testing. This is the biopsy.
To do a biopsy, your doctor will need to remove a small piece of tissue from the lump. It’s a small operation where a specialist will make a small incision in the breast and then insert a needle to pull out the sample. The sample is then preserved and processed so that a highly-trained pathologist can study it under a microscope.
During their examination, the pathologist will use a dye to more carefully observe the physical attributes of the sample to help determine if the lump in your breast is cancerous. However, telling the difference between cancerous and non-cancerous tissue isn’t as easy as it seems. Even trained specialists with years of experience sometimes disagree as to whether a specific sample needs to be treated as cancer. Unfortunately, a misdiagnosis at this stage could make all the difference for you.
Can Breast Cancer Be Misdiagnosed? Getting a Second Opinion
Regardless of the cancer, you should always try to get a breast cancer second opinion Houston. Whether before going through surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. It is as simple as having the lab send your samples to a lab that specializes in the type of cancer you may have. There may be excellent pathologists in the first lab. But if breast cancer isn’t something they review every, single day, then they are more likely to misdiagnose. All cancers present in slightly different ways. So you will have the best chance of an accurate diagnosis if you request to send samples to a specialized lab.
At Breast Health Institute Houston, Dr. Miltenburg wants to ensure that you don’t have to go through the emotional strain of a misdiagnosis. That is where the second opinion/breast tumor conference comes into play. With years of specialized training focused on identifying and treating breast cancer, they will be able to look at your biopsy with eyes trained to look at breast tissue and identify cancerous growths in that region of the body.
From there, Dr. Miltenburg can discuss treatment options. These may be in line with your initial doctor’s recommendations, but they may not be. If Dr. Miltenburg suggests a different course, then it is important to have a candid conversation with both of your doctors. Ask for the rationale behind their plan of action. And ask for a third opinion from another qualified professional if you find yourself torn between differing opinions.
Feeling Safe in Your Diagnosis
There is no way to make a cancer diagnosis feel good. It’s frightening and life changing. If you are about to put yourself through surgery and treatment, then you should know that it’s necessary. Getting a second opinion and putting your trust in those who specialize in breast cancer will allow you to at least feel confident that you are taking the right steps towards recovery.