Specialist physicians in Quebec question why the outside review of ER and HER2 breast cancer pathology test results used a 1% standard versus a 10% standard
Public debate in Quebec about inaccurate tests for breast cancer by the province’s pathology laboratories has turned attention to an area of pathology testing which is seldom discussed in public forums. It is the situation where there is often significant variability in rate of false positives and false negatives reported by different pathology laboratories performing the same tests for breast cancer and other diseases.
Quebec’s media coverage about problems with its pathology laboratories and inaccurate breast cancer tests was reported last week by Dark Daily in the e-briefing titled “PART ONE: More Debate in Quebec about How Pathology Labs Performed Inaccurate Breast Cancer Tests” . Here in Part Two, we describe how Quebec’s medical specialists are calling attention to another source of problems. This is how the use of various standards for evaluating breast cancer specimens can contribute to different rates of false positive and false negative results on pathology tests reported by pathology laboratories in the province.
Results of retesting 2,856 women were made public last week, putting pathology in the media spotlight
In Quebec, concerns continue about the accuracy of breast cancer testing performed in the province. Last Wednesday, Quebec’s Health Minister, Yves Bolduc released the results from a project that retested breast cancer tissue from 2,856 women. This review involved cases where the original pathology analysis for estrogen receptor (ER) or HER-2 marker status by immunohistochemistry (IHC) had occurred between April 1, 2008, and June 1, 2009. (more…)
Health minister characterizes reports of 20% to 30% error rates as highly exaggerated
Questions about a possible high rate of errors in breast cancer testing done in the Canadian province of Quebec surfaced last week. Government health officials were forced to publicly acknowledge that they had received a report in April of a limited study that indicated an error rate of between 15% and 20% in hormone receptor testing, and an error rate as high as 30% in HER2/neu testing.
Following the first news reports of this situation last Thursday, Quebec health officials scrambled to respond to public concerns. In response to calls for the Health Ministry to release the full report to the public, Quebec’s Health Minister, Yves Bolduc, convened an extraordinary Sunday meeting that took place yesterday. He met with pathologists and oncologists from the province to review the details of the report on errors in breast cancer testing and determine a course of action.