False Positive Mammogram Results Have Negative and Positive Impact

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breastcancercellsNothing is more terrifying than taking a screening test for any type of cancer and finding out that it is positive. A report from the JAMA Network Journals reported that when women got positive results that turned out to be wrong, they experienced short-term anxiety, but also would be more likely to undergo breast cancer screening in the future. Some of those women who have regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer in its early stages will have false positives.

The authors reported that a telephone survey was performed shortly after women were screened at 22 sites, with 1,226 women who were selected randomly, and which included those who had both positive and negative results. Follow-up interviews were also performed on 1,028 of those women who participated, with 534 negative results and 494 false-positive results.

Of the women who had a false-positive result, 50.6 percent reported feeling anxiety that was either moderate or higher, with 4.6 listing anxiety as being “extreme.” However, the women still continued with their plans for screening within the next two years. In fact, those with a false-positive mammogram result were more likely than those with negative results to undergo future screening tests. The study concludes that the time-limited harm that occurred after receiving a false-positive report on their screening mammogram is relevant for healthcare providers who guide women about mammographic screenings, as well as for screening guideline development groups. These results are promising for being able to monitor women and catch breast cancer in its early stages.

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