Each year 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK - that’s one person every 10 minutes. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign during October to increase the awareness of the disease. Misdiagnosis of the disease does happen. This could be dependent on many reasons such as a physician missing a patient’s symptoms. 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds the public to ensure that they check for symptoms, this can include monthly self-examinations or by attending a scan. Read our post on How to Check Your Own Breasts for more information. 

The failure to diagnose or detect breast cancer and it’s symptoms are fatal as this gives the opportunity for the disease to advance to a more serious stage, and increase the risk of harming the patient and lowering the cure rate. It’s not just older women who experience breast cancer, it does happen at a younger age also. 

Anikka Burton was misdiagnosed and had to fight for a biopsy despite her family history. At a young age, Annika’s mother passed away with breast cancer and when Anikka found herself experiencing symptoms of breast cancer she was told by doctors that it definitely wasn’t cancer. After the struggle for a biopsy, Anikka was diagnosed with an aggressive, locally advanced primary breast cancer in 2011 at just 33 years of age. Anikka has gone on to have the full works of chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and 5 operations to date. During treatment she wrote a blog to help others through treatment: www.chemoforbeginners.com

From her negative experience, Anikka went on to create a positive with the launch of Not Another Bunch of Flowers, of which Anikka says: 

“Sometimes our lightbulb moments don’t come from positive experiences. It can be the hardest things we go through in life that inspire our creativity. I hope that from my actions I inspire and motivate others to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Unfortunately, a misdiagnosis can happen to anyone. Going through a cancer diagnosis can be an unexplainable, terrifying and uneasy experience. If you feel that you have been given a misdiagnosis, don’t be afraid to seek another doctor or specialist elsewhere. 

To avoid a misdiagnosis, it’s vital that you let your Doctor know exactly how you are feeling. Here are 5 steps to avoid misdiagnosis: 

  1. Seek a specialist.
  2. Write down each symptom.
  3. Know your medical history.
  4. Describe and be specific about your symptoms while talking with your doctor.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you possibly can. And stand your ground if you are still certain something isn’t right.