For the first time, researchers have looked into the long-term effects of  “false-positive” results on screening mammograms and how it affects the emotional health of women. (A false- positive means getting results that indicate cancer when cancer does not exist.)It is understandable that false-positive results would be emotionally upsetting, but researchers have found that the mental anguish of false-positive results can actually last for months and years. Researchers looked at 454 women with abnormal findings (both true positive and false-positive) on a screening mammography, and compared them with women who had normal screening results on the same day. The women were asked to complete a questionnaire which measured their psychological state at the time of the screening and then 1, 6, 18, and 36 months later. Researchers found that six months after the final diagnosis (telling the women whether they had cancer or not), women with false-positive results reported emotional distress as great as those reported by women who had actually been diagnosed with breast cancer. Even three years after being declared cancer-free, the women with the false-positive results reported greater negative psychological consequences compared with women who had normal findings. The researchers concluded that false-positive results on screening mammograms cause long-term psychological consequences. The study was published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Minimizing False-Positive Results
At Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology, we are committed to minimizing false-positive results as much as possible. We achieve this by using state-of-the-art equipment and advanced technology. We also offer 3D mammography, in addition to regular 2D mammography. Studies have shown that adding 3D mammography to regular 2D mammography increases cancer detection while reducing the number of false-positives by 15%.

If you do get a positive mammography result requiring a biopsy, we ensure that your results are correct by using the know error breast biopsy system.

Have questions about mammography? Feel free to post them in the comments, and we will respond.