How Common Is It That Breast Cancer Is Misdiagnosed As Cysts?

Question

Asked by Marie

How Common Is It That Breast Cancer Is Misdiagnosed As Cysts?

I am a 47 year old female. After receiving a diagnostic mammogram followed by an ultrasound, the radiologist assured me that I had 2 cysts and to resume my normal yearly screenings. I had no indication of any cysts in my breast. The next day I received a call from my gynocologist's office to make an appointment with a surgeon to have the cysts looked at. Should I be alarmed? I had never seen the gynocologist before (my regular doctor was unavailable), and she's recently out of med school. I have been receiving diagnostic mammograms after my regular mammograms for the past 3 years because of an area in the same breast that is unrelated to where the cysts are. I'm confused by the concern on the doctors part, and the lack of alarm by the radiologist (who by the way was an older gentleman who I assume is very experienced at reading mammograms).

Answer

Sorry, Marie, I'm totally confused by all of this, too. An ultrasound would have identified pretty certainly that you had cysts; was that the case? If so, I'm confused by you saying "I had no indication of any cysts in my breast." Clarify?

Perhaps your gynecologist is being extra-careful, since you're approaching the age where breast cancer becomes more common. She may want you to have a biopsy (thus a visit with the surgeon), just to be extra-sure you're dealing with cysts. If so, be aware that about 85% of biopsies are negative, so the stats would be on your side.

I wouldn't put too much credence in age/experience vs. youth/less experience. I find often the kids right out of medical school are better diagnosticians because they pay a lot of attention; they have newer info. in their brains; and they're not jaded by years of doing the same thing day after day. So I'd pay attention to the gynecologist, perhaps asking her what exactly she wants you to see the surgeon about. Good luck - PJH

Answered by PJ Hamel