(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Misinterpretation is more common than nonrecognition and mismanagement when it comes to diagnosing cases of breast cancer, according to a team of French researchers. This conclusion is based on a study entitled “Undiagnosed Breast Cancer at MR Imaging: Analysis of Causes,” which is published in the July issue of Radiology.

In this study, the investigators aimed to “retrospectively review the causes of false-negative results on prior magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies in patients who developed breast cancer as revealed on a follow-up MR imaging study and to determine the presumptive causes of these false-negative findings.” Fifty-eight pairs of MR imaging studies that compared a prior MR image without a diagnosis of cancer and a diagnostic MR image were assessed and reviewed. “False-negative results on prior MR studies were retrospectively reassessed to identify possible reasons why cancers had been not recognized, potentially misinterpreted, or mismanaged,” the investigators wrote. The investigators reported the following results. Of the 60 cancers assessed, 28 (47% [95% confidence interval {CI}: 34%, 59%]) were retrospectively diagnosed as grade 3, 4, or 5 lesions. Upon prospective analysis, 6 lesions (10% [95% CI: 2%, 18%]) were undiagnosed, 15 lesions (25% [95% CI: 14%, 36%]) were potentially misinterpreted, and 7 lesions (12% [95% CI: 3%, 20%]) were mismanaged.

The investigators concluded: “In patients with breast cancer seen at MR imaging, retrospective evaluation of the prior MR imaging studies showed potential observer error in 47% of cases, resulting more from misinterpretation than from nonrecognition or mismanagement of cancers.”

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