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Just how often is breast cancer misdiagnosed?

According to statistics reported by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women in the United States will eventually face a breast cancer diagnosis at some point in her lifetime.

In 2017 alone, more than 300,000 U.S. women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, including more than 250,000 cases of invasive breast cancer and more than 60,000 cases of non-invasive (ductal carcinoma in situ) breast cancer. To put these numbers in perspective, consider this: a U.S. woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes, on average.

To make matters worse, breast cancer is not only common, but also quite deadly. Other than lung cancer, breast cancer is the most deadly form of cancer for women. In fact, more than 40,000 women are expected to die from breast cancer this year alone in the U.S.

Given the severity of breast cancer, one would think that proper diagnosis would be a priority. Unfortunately, however, breast cancer is misdiagnosed more often than many people realize.

For example, a 2015 breast cancer study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the pathologists involved in the study diagnosed abnormal, pre-cancerous cells correctly about half the time -- essentially a flip of the coin. Even worse, more than a third of these cases were misdiagnosed as normal or not worrisome, and 17 percent were "over-interpreted" as more serious than they actually were.

Not only are these statistics alarming, but completely unacceptable given the thousands of women facing breast cancer diagnoses each year. Women rely of these diagnoses for proper treatment, and when doctors and other medical professionals get it wrong, they put lives at risk.

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