False-positive mammogram results raise risk of breast cancer

Women with false-positive results from screening mammography had twice the risk of being diagnosed with a screen-detected or interval breast cancer for more than a decade after screening compared to those with negative results, according to research published online Dec. 19 in the British Journal of Cancer.  

Furthermore, study results suggest that false-positives should be considered as an integral part of a woman's personalized screening strategy, as they are common.  

Researchers led by Marta Román of the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, analyzed screening mammography data from three programs in Denmark, Norway and Spain.  

A total of 75,513 screened women aged 50 to 69 years from Denmark (1991–2010), 556,640 from Norway (1996–2008) and 517,314 from Spain (1994–2010) were included, according to the researchers.  

During follow-up, 1,149,467 women underwent 3,510,450 screening exams, and 10,623 screen-detected and 5,700 interval cancers were diagnosed.  

Compared to women with negative tests, those with false-positive results had a two-fold risk of screen-detected and interval cancer. Women with a second false-positive result had over a four-fold risk of screen-detected and interval cancer. These women remained at an elevated risk for 12 years after the false-positive result, according to the researchers.  

Overall, the study findings suggest women should be informed about their false-positive screening mammography results and be considered for more intensive, personalized screening.