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Study: More Risk of Cancer and Death after First False-Positive Mammography Result

A study by X. Mao et al titled “Breast Cancer Incidence After a False-Positive Mammography Result” published on 2 November 2023 analyzed the records of 497,343 women taken from the Stockholm Mammography Screening Register.


The study period is approximately 20 years from 1 January 1991 to 31 March 2020.

Of the 497,343 women included in the analysis, 45,213 women received a first false-positive mammography result with 452,130 acting as control.


The definition of a false-positive result at a mammography screening is

…a positive interpretation but without a breast cancer diagnosed before the next scheduled screening or end of a normal screening interval.

Generally, those who received a first false-positive result were more likely to have breast cancer than those who did not. In Table 1 reproduced below, one can see that whilst this is noticeably worse for the youngest group of 40–49 years with a hazard ratio of 1.38, it is worse for the oldest group of 60–75 years with a hazard ratio of 2.02. It is also significantly worse for women with lower breast density.


Table 1: Risk of Breast Cancer After a False-Positive Mammography Result, by Baseline Characteristics.
Table 1: Risk of Breast Cancer After a False-Positive Mammography Result, by Baseline Characteristics.

Those who received a first false-positive result are also more likely to die. The all-cause mortality hazard ratio is 1.07 (95% CI: 1.04–1.11) and death due to breast cancer is 1.84 (95% CI: 1.57–2.15).


Also, not getting a biopsy apparently helps.

When stratified based on whether a biopsy was performed during the recall, we observed that women who underwent a biopsy had a higher risk of breast cancer (HR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.63–1.92) than those without a biopsy (HR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.43–1.60) when compared with women who were not recalled.

One can only suspect why…


Figure 1: Cumulative Breast Cancer Incidence Among Women With vs Without a False-Positive Result at Index Mammography.
Figure 1: Cumulative Breast Cancer Incidence Among Women With vs Without a False-Positive Result at Index Mammography.
 

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