According to a new study, false positive mammography screening results can indicate a hidden lesion that can develop later into breast cancer. More about the study appear in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Screening mammography can show false positive results due to a number of factors, such as dense breast tissue, tumor-like structures, or suspicious axillary lymph nodes. Before this study, it was not known if women with false positive mammography results are exposed to a long term risk of breast cancer, when compared with those with negative results, or not.
Therefore, My von Euler-Chelpin, Ph.D., in the department of public health at the University of Copenhagen and the research team, reviewed data from a long term population-based screening mammography program in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 1991 and 2005. The team assessed the risk of breast cancer and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) among patients, between 50 and 69, with false positive mammography scans. The risk of developing cancer among these women was compared to the same risk in women with negative mammography results.
It was reported that in women with negative mammography screening results, the risk of cancer was 339 /100,000 persons during years at risk. Women with false positive results had much higher rate. It was 583/100,000 persons. According to these results, the study team said that "The excess breast cancer risk in women with false-positive tests may be attributable to misclassification of malignancies already present at the baseline assessment,"
Therefore, the team suggested that new methods in screening for breast cancer can result in more precise detection of the disease. These methods include high-resolution ultrasound and stereotactic biopsy. The team also encouraged women with false positive mammography screening results to undergo further investigation and continue going for screening regularly. These measures can help in earlier detection of the disease and the treatment will be more effective.