During that year, many women suffer serious anxiety and their lives are wrecked, researchers have discovered after they questioned 385 women with abnormal mammogram results. Of these, just 152 were diagnosed with breast cancer, but the other 233 had false-positive results.
In fact, around 60 per cent of all abnormal results are false-positives, say the researchers from St Elisabeth Hospital in Tilburg in the Netherlands, while the false-positive rate for all mammograms is around 24 per cent. However, nobody tells the women about the high rate of false-positives, and many suffer from anxiety during the following 12 months and their lives are ruined.
"The women who received false-positives in our study experienced a significant reduction in their quality of life, especially if they were prone to anxiety, and the effects of this lasted at least a year," said lead researcher Dr Lideke van der Steeg.
(Source: British Journal of Surgery, 2010; doi: 10.1002/bjs.7371).