We found a recent article on businessweek.com that continues the streak of Mammogram Confusion. This one’s in the form of a distressing report from the Netherlands, highlighting the mental damage and distress women undergo after receiving a “false-positive.”
A false positive is basically when something shows up on a mammogram that needs further research to make sure the whatsit-on-the-scan isn’t cancer.
Not-So-Fun Fact: many women with false positives end up undergoing far more diagnostic procedures than the women who actually have cancer. So, basically, all these procedures lead women to excessive (and needless) amounts of WORRYING.
“….’In fact, women who had a tendency to be anxious fared much worse if they received a false-positive — which is estimated to happen in 60 percent of abnormal mammograms — than if they were actually diagnosed with breast cancer.”
We think the article’s bottom line sums it up well:
“Women often overestimate their risk of breast cancer, and the materials provided by health care professionals and government agencies often focus on the positive aspects of screening and are not always objective.”
For more on breast cancer screenings and false-positive results, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.