Each year, more than one and a half million women in the United States undergo a breast biopsy. After a breast biopsy, a pathologist evaluates the tissue to provide a diagnosis for the patient and her doctor. The results can range from normal or benign cells, pre-cancerous cells to invasive cancer. A new study examined the accuracy of pathologists interpreting different breast biopsy specimens.
Dr. Joann Elmore from the University of Washington in Seattle and co-authors enlisted 115 volunteer pathologists around the country. The pathologists interpreted a total of 240 test slides including invasive breast cancer and two types of pre-invasive diagnoses, atypia and ductal carcinoma in situ. Those results were then compared to a standard developed by a group of very experienced breast pathologists. The study appears in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association.