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Health Aff (Millwood). 2015 Apr;34(4):576-83. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2014.1087.

National expenditure for false-positive mammograms and breast cancer overdiagnoses estimated at $4 billion a year.

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Mei-Sing Ong is a research fellow at Boston Children's Hospital, in Massachusetts, and a research fellow at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, in Sydney, Australia.
Kenneth D. Mandl ( is a professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Children's Hospital Informatics Program at Boston Children's Hospital.


Populationwide mammography screening has been associated with a substantial rise in false-positive mammography findings and breast cancer overdiagnosis. However, there is a lack of current data on the associated costs in the United States. We present costs due to false-positive mammograms and breast cancer overdiagnoses among women ages 40-59, based on expenditure data from a major US health care insurance plan for 702,154 women in the years 2011-13. The average expenditures for each false-positive mammogram, invasive breast cancer, and ductal carcinoma in situ in the twelve months following diagnosis were $852, $51,837 and $12,369, respectively. This translates to a national cost of $4 billion each year. The costs associated with false-positive mammograms and breast cancer overdiagnoses appear to be much higher than previously documented. Screening has the potential to save lives. However, the economic impact of false-positive mammography results and breast cancer overdiagnoses must be considered in the debate about the appropriate populations for screening.


Cost of Health Care

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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