False-Positive Mammograms Associated With Anxiety, Willingness for Future Screening


Bottom Line: Mammograms with false-positive results were associated with increased short-term anxiety for women, and more women with false-positive results reported that they were more likely to undergo future breast cancer screening.

Author: Anna N.A. Tosteson, Sc.D., of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues.

Background: A portion of women who undergo routine mammogram screening will experience false-positive results and require further evaluation to rule out breast cancer.

How the Study Was Conducted: The authors report quality-of-life (QoL) results from the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST). The telephone survey was conducted shortly after screening at 22 sites and 1,226 randomly selected women with positive and negative mammogram results were enrolled. Follow-up interviews were obtained from 1,028 of the women (534 with negative results, 494 with false-positive results).

 Results: Among women with a false-positive mammogram, 50.6 percent reported anxiety as moderate or higher and as extreme by 4.6 percent. But that did not affect plans by women to undergo screening within the next two years. More women with false-positive results (25.7 percent) compared with women with negative results (14.2 percent) said they were “more likely” to undergo future breast cancer screening.

Discussion: “Our finding of time-limited harm after false-positive screening mammograms is relevant for clinicians who counsel women on mammographic screening and for screening guideline development groups.”

(JAMA Intern Med. Published online April 21, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.981.

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