A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention revealed this week that women who receive false positive results on mammograms are at increased risk of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years.
“We don’t want women to read this and feel worried,” said lead author Louise M. Henderson of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. She suggested women and their physicians use the information as just another “useful tool” in weighing their personal risk of developing breast cancer. Risk factors for the entire population include age, breast density, race, and whether or not a woman has a strong family history of breast cancer.
The study, done collectively at major universities across the United States, examined 1.3 million women between the ages of 40 and 74. All of the women received false positive mammogram results — meaning they were told the test showed something but it was later found there was no sign of cancer.
The study results indicate that women who receive an abnormal mammogram are at a “modest” risk of developing cancer in the following decade. The risk is compared to those who have not received a false positive mammogram result.
The study considered two groups of women: those who received additional screening after receiving a false positive result and those who got both additional screenings and biopsies.
- Women who got additional negative imaging results had a 39 percent higher risk of developing cancer in the future. This figure is compared to women in the study who did not develop breast cancer.
- For those women who also had negative biopsies, the increased chance of getting cancer in the next 10 years jumped to 76 percent.
This is not the first study that has been conducted on this issue, but it’s certainly one of the largest. The chief cancer control officer of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Richard Wender, cautioned women to be vigilant with screenings.
“If you’ve had a false positive, that is a risk factor,” he said, noting that it’s very important that, regardless of risk factors, women stay current with mammography. The ACS recommended women start regularly screenings at age 45.
One of the most important things this study revealed is the importance of vigilant follow up after getting a false positive test result. If physicians fail to notice risk factors or order additional testing following a false positive test result, cancer may go undetected leading to serious consequences, including wrongful death.
If you or someone you love received a delayed cancer diagnosis, your physician may be at fault. Contact Andres & Berger today for a thorough review of your case. We take medical malpractice cases on contingency. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.