What's the Real Risk of Breast-Cancer Screening False Positives?

October 18, 2011

Wall Street Journal

False-positive findings are always mentioned in the debate over the value of screening mammography.

But how often, exactly, do false positives occur? A study just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine aimed to find out. Researchers looked at data covering more than 169,000 women who began breast-cancer screening in their 40s and 50s and looked at how often they were called back for a follow-up imaging test, with normal results, in their first decade of screening.

They also looked at how often women received a biopsy that didn’t reveal breast cancer. Both scenarios can lead to anxiety and worry, while the biopsy can also cause pain and scarring, says Rebecca Hubbard, an author of the study and an assistant investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle... Read More

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