False Positive Breast Screening Links to Higher Cancer Risk

February 16, 2016
False Positive Breast Screenings

A false breast cancer scare usually conjures intense anxiety followed by intense relief. According to a recent study, however, a negative breast screening could be a warning sign of things to come.
Published in a recent issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the research divided subjects who had abnormal mammograms into two groups: those who received additional imaging and those who opted for biopsies. Ultimately, both groups turned out to have a 39 to 76 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer over the next ten years, compared with women who were truly negative.
While the study was not designed to determine a causal relationship between false positive tests and future cancer risk, experts suspect that abnormal tests may flag irregular patterns that, while not cancerous at the time, may become cancerous at a later date.
In the end, this latest study adds to a growing body of evidence that false positive tests are a cancer risk factor. To mitigate this risk, patients should remain vigilant and stay up to date with regular mammography.
Unfortunately, according to Dr. Richard Wender, Chief Cancer Control Officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS), at least 33 percent of women who should be getting routine breast cancer screenings fall behind schedule.
According to ACS, women should get annual screenings once they reach the age of 45, unless they have a family history which could signal the need for earlier testing. Screening should then continue as long as a woman is expected to live ten years or longer and is in good health.
If you are concerned about your potential cancer risk or have fallen behind on your annual screenings, speak to your personal physician to schedule a test and to learn about your individual risk for this deadly but treatable disease.

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