NYTimes: When is DCIS cancer?

Dr. James L. Connolly, a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center pathologist, is quoted in today’s NYTimes story about serious problems with the diagnosis of breast cancer.

As it turns out, diagnosing the earliest stage of breast cancer can be surprisingly difficult, prone to both outright error and case-by-case disagreement over whether a cluster of cells is benign or malignant, according to an examination of breast cancer cases by The New York Times.

Advances in mammography and other imaging technology over the past 30 years have meant that pathologists must render opinions on ever smaller breast lesions, some the size of a few grains of salt. Discerning the difference between some benign lesions and early stage breast cancer is a particularly challenging area of pathology, according to medical records and interviews with doctors and patients.

Dr. Connelly comment on a move by the College of American Pathologists to “start a voluntary certification program for pathologists who read breast tissue. Among its requirements is that the pathologists must read 250 breast cases a year.”

“There’s no question there’s a problem, and that’s why we’re starting this certificate program,” said Dr. James L. Connolly

 Also, See my post on Nature Network Boston about new finding from the Silent Spring Institute that raise questions about the role of household cleaning products and breast cancer. The finding come from their ongoing study of the links between the environment and the Cape Cod breast cancer cluster.

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