How False Positives Affect Future Screening
Women who have a false-positive mammogram—results that initially appear worrisome but later prove to be normal—are more likely to skip this important diagnostic test for breast cancer in the future, according to a recent study. While 85 percent of women who get “all clear” mammogram results return for further screening as scheduled, only 80 percent of those who receive a cancer scare do.
These findings are not entirely surprising—false-positive results are often stressful and require additional testing, which takes time, can be painful, and may be expensive, even with health insurance. According to researchers, about 12 percent of mammograms produce false-positive results. Women who receive false-positive mammograms have an increased risk of develop breast cancer in the future, meaning that regular screening is even more important.
Breast cancer screening remains somewhat controversial and guidelines vary. The development of newer technologies that reduce false-positive rates—including breast tomosynthesis—may be beneficial.
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