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Does a false-positive mammogram lead to delay in future screenings?
Following a false-positive result from a screening mammogram, women may be more likely to delay or even forgo subsequent screenings, according to a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The researchers used data from women who had mammogram screenings through a large healthcare organization with multiple facilities in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, which covered 741,150 screening mammograms for 261,767 women.
Of the mammograms included, 650,232 produced true-negative results and 90,918 produced false-positive results. The likelihood of undergoing a subsequent mammogram was higher among women who had true-negative than those who had a false-positive result (85.0% vs 77.9%, P < 0.001). Median delay in being screened again was higher among women who had a false-positive result than a true-negative (13 months vs 3 months, P < 0.001). Additionally, women with a true-negative screening were 36% more likely to have a screening in the next 36 months than women who had a false-positive (hazard ratio = 1.36; 95% confidence interval, 1.35-1.37). Also women who have a false-positive mammogram are at increased risk of late-stage disease at time of diagnosis compared to those who have a true-negative mammogram (P < 0.001).
The investigators concluded that a false-positive mammogram is likely to cause a woman to delay subsequent screening, which could increase the 4-year cumulative risk of late-stage disease at time of diagnosis.