Just Kidding, That Mammogram Report Was a False Positive

More than half of women will receive at least one false positive after 10 years of tests.

By Lesley Kennedy • MORE.com Reporter

Even when you’re pretty darn certain everything is fine, getting a mammogram is no picnic. Toss false positives into the mix and can we just get a group “Ugh!”?

Reuters reports a new study finds more than half of women will have at least one false positive report during annual mammograms after 10 years. And, as if hearing that sort of news wasn’t enough to scare the bejesus out of you, between 7 percent and 9 percent of those women will undergo biopsies that will turn out to be negative, the news service adds.

Rebecca Hubbard, of the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle, tells Reuters the research shows women false positives are common in mammogram screenings, which should be of some comfort when you're getting the results.

“I think it gives us quantification of risks and benefits so when individuals consider how frequently to screen they can think of what their risk of cancer is and what their risk tolerance is for potentially getting a false positive,” she tells the news service.

In other words, still get tested, but maybe you don't need to hit the panic button quite so quickly.

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First Published October 18, 2011

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