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Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer

Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer

Diagnosing a breast lump and breast cancer may be delayed or missed because in some cases, a breast lump may not be painful or large enough for a person to become concerned and seek medical care. In addition, small breast lumps may not be felt by self-examination or a breast examination for long periods of time. Some breast lumps may not be easily seen on a screening mammogram.

A breast lump caused by breast cancer can potentially be misdiagnosed as a benign condition, such as breast cysts, fibrocystic breasts, ablocked milk duct andfibroadenomas$.

In addition, some people may delay seeking medical care for a breast lump out of fear of a diagnosis of cancer. A breast lump or lumps are a symptom of many different conditions, so a thorough medical evaluation is needed to ensure an accurate diagnosis of the reason for a breast lump....more about Breast Cancer »

Alternative diagnoses list for Breast Cancer:

For a diagnosis of Breast Cancer, the following list of conditions have been mentioned in sources as possible alternative diagnoses to consider during the diagnostic process for Breast Cancer:

Diseases for which Breast Cancer may be an alternative diagnosis

The other diseases for which Breast Cancer is listed as a possible alternative diagnosis in their lists include:

Breast Cancer: Hidden Causes Misdiagnosed?

Causes of Breast Cancer may include these medical conditions:

  • The cancer can return at the original site. This is called a local recurrence
  • The cancer can recur nearby, such as in the chest. This is called a regional recurrence
  • The cancer can spread to a distant location in the body, such as lymph nodes, bone marrow, or lungs. This is called a distant recurrence, or a metastasis
  • more causes...»

Rare Types of Breast Cancer:

Breast Cancer: Medical Mistakes

Related medical mistakes may include:

Breast Cancer: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:

Discussion of diagnosis/misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer:

My 9-year-old daughter has developed a lump in her breast, but it is only on one side. Is this normal?

What you see as a lump is probably normal breast development. Breast development is usually the first sign of puberty, beginning between eight and fourteen years. It is common for one breast to begin to develop first. The second breast may not begin for up to six months after the first. You and your daughter should not be concerned.

The standard measure for pubescent breast development is called the Tanner stages. This scale identifies five developmental stages. In stage one a slight elevation of one or both nipples appears. Stage two is the breast bud stage characterized by elevation of the breast and nipple into a small mound. The diameter of the areola will also increase. It is likely that your daughter is entering the breast budding stage. The final three stages will produce more enlargement and definition of the breasts' shape until they reach full maturity at stage five. (Source: excerpt from Puberty: NWHIC)

Common Misdiagnoses and Breast Cancer

Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease is often over-diagnosed. Patients tend to assume that any memory loss or forgetulness symptom might be Alzheimer's, whereas there are many other less severe possibilities. Some level of memory decline is normal with aging, and even a slight loss of acuity may be noticed in the 30's and 40's. Other conditions can also lead a person to show greater forgetfulness. For example, depression and depressive disorders can cause a person to have reduced concentration and thereby poorer memory retention.

Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions, such as a stroke or Alzheimer's disease, it can also occur from a side effect or interaction between multiple drugs that the elderly patient may be taking. There are also various other possible causes of dementia.

Rare type of breast cancer without a lump: There is a less common form of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer. Its symptoms can be an inflammation of the breast tissue, such as with a breast rash with redness and warmth, but not necessarily a physical breast lump. This type of breast cancer should be considered as an uncommon possibility for certain types of breast symptoms.

Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease. The reality is that there are various possibilities, such as benign essential tremor, which is mostly harmless. see the various causes of tremor and misdiagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

Spitz nevi misdiagnosed as dangerous melanoma skin cancer: One possible misdiagnosis to consider in lieu of melanoma is spitz nevi. See melanoma and spitz nevi.

Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's. The disease Fragile X disorder can show only mild symptoms in the early years, and Parkinsons-like symptoms around age 50. See misdiagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

Breast Cancer: Rare Types

Rare types of medical disorders and diseases in related medical areas:

Failure To Diagnose Breast Cancer

Failure to diagnose Breast Cancer may be associated with the following:

  • Breast cancer is often undiagnosed in the early stages as it can have few if any symptoms. Often, symptoms such as a breast lump are either not noticed or ignored. A delayed diagnosis can greatly affect the prognosis of the cancer
  • Breast cancer is generally considered a female disease so males tend not to be on the lookout for symptoms of breast cancer
  • Failure to diagnose breast cancer or a delayed diagnosis can result in metastasis and death
  • Early breast cancer is often undiagnosed largely due to the fact that many women are unaware of the importance of breast self-examination. Even women know how to do self-examination, often do not do it often enough. As early breast cancer has few symptoms, regular self-examination is the best way of detecting any early changes. Regular examinations by a professional are also important for early detection
  • Younger women are more likely to be undiagnosed with breast cancer as they often believe that they are too young to have breast cancer
  • Women under the age of 50 often have their breast cancer misdiagnosed as fibrocystic disease as they are considered too young to have breast cancer
  • Biopsy testing is sometimes done incorrectly and the cancer lesion is missed
  • Breast cancer may be undiagnosed in places where there is inadequate screening practices for patients who have an increased risk of the disease

Notes On Hidden Causes Of Breast Cancer

The following may be hidden causes of Breast Cancer:

  • Klinefelter syndrome and estrogenic hormone therapy are considered risk factors for developing breast cancer in males
  • Risk factors for breast cancer include: age, geographical location, first pregnancy after the age of 30, no pregnancies, inherited risk, genetic predisposition, history of atypical epithelial hyperplasia, radiation, overweight, excessive alcohol consumption, contraceptive use, hormone replacement therapy and lifestyle factors such as high dietary fat intake
  • An early age of onset of menstruation and a later age of menopause are linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer

Notes On Wrong Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer

Wrong diagnosis of Breast Cancer may be associated with the following:

  • Breast cancer tests can result in a false-positive result when small localized areas of calcifications are present
  • A benign breast tumor is sometimes misdiagnosed as being malignant
  • Females with a negative mammogram and sonogram result may still have breast cancer
  • False negative results may occur as a result of poor testing techniques or inaccurate interpretation of the results
  • Some breast cancers may be mistaken for a benign breast tumor
  • Fibrocystic breast disease causes breasts to develop lumps which may be wrongly diagnosed as breast cancer. Conversely, a breast cancer may be mistakenly misdiagnosed as fibrocystic breast disease - this is more common in patients who have pre-existing fibrocystic breasts and then develop breast cancer.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer usually presents with breast pain, redness and swelling and is often misdiagnosed as a breast infection and treated accordingly with antibiotics
  • A wrong diagnosis of breast cancer can result in unnecessary treatment which can be quite invasive, disfiguring and debilitating e.g. chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery

Complications Of Misdiagnosis Of Breast Cancer

The following may be complications of misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer:

  • The skin changes of the nipple involved in Paget's disease of the breast is often misdiagnosed as dermatitis or a skin irritation
  • Breast changes due to breast cancer may be dismissed as being caused by hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, menstrual periods or hormone therapy

Other Notes On Misdiagnosis Of Breast Cancer

  • Breast cancer risk in women increases with age but the rate of increase slows after menopause
  • Interestingly, women living in different countries face different levels of risk of developing breast cancer. However, if a female moves from a low risk country to a high risk country, the risk becomes that of the high risk country within one or two generations
  • An MRI has a high level of sensitivity and often leads to numerous unnecessary biopsies. However, this may be acceptable in women who face a high risk of developing breast cancer

Medical news summaries about misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer:

The following medical news items are relevant to misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer:

Misdiagnosis and Breast Cancer deaths

Breast Cancer is a condition that can possibly be deadly if misdiagnosed...more »

General Misdiagnosis Articles

Read these general articles with an overview of misdiagnosis issues.

About misdiagnosis:

When checking for a misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer or confirming a diagnosis of Breast Cancer, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative conditions relevant to diagnosis. These alternate diagnoses of Breast Cancer may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer. For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases, see Overview of Misdiagnosis.


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