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Evid Based Med. 2013 Apr;18(2):54-61. doi: 10.1136/eb-2012-100608. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Psychological consequences of false-positive screening mammograms in the UK.

Author information

  • 1PenTAG, University of Exeter, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, Devon, UK. mary.bond@pms.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To identify the psychological effects of false-positive screening mammograms in the UK.

METHODS:

Systematic review of all controlled studies and qualitative studies of women with a false-positive screening mammogram. The control group participants had normal mammograms. All psychological outcomes including returning for routine screening were permitted. All studies had a narrative synthesis.

RESULTS:

The searches returned seven includable studies (7/4423). Heterogeneity was such that meta-analysis was not possible. Studies using disease-specific measures found that, compared to normal results, there could be enduring psychological distress that lasted up to 3 years; the level of distress was related to the degree of invasiveness of the assessment. At 3 years the relative risks were, further mammography, 1.28 (95% CI 0.82 to 2.00), fine needle aspiration 1.80 (95% CI 1.17 to 2.77), biopsy 2.07 (95% CI 1.22 to 3.52) and early recall 1.82 (95% CI 1.22 to 2.72). Studies that used generic measures of anxiety and depression found no such impact up to 3 months after screening. Evidence suggests that women with false-positive mammograms have an increased likelihood of failing to reattend for routine screening, relative risk 0.97 (95% CI 0.96 to 0.98) compared with women with normal mammograms.

CONCLUSIONS:

Having a false-positive screening mammogram can cause breast cancer-specific distress for up to 3 years. The degree of distress is related to the invasiveness of the assessment. Women with false-positive mammograms are less likely to return for routine assessment than those with normal ones.

PMID:
22859786
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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