• Glenn Wilson

    Odds are most women will get at least one false-positive mammogram, but thankfully most women who are called back for further testing of a suspicious mammogram finding do not end up having cancer after all.

    Dr. Greger: In response to the Swiss Medical Board’s recommendations against women of any age getting routine mammograms, critics suggested that instead of phasing out screening programs completely, we should leave it up to each woman individually to make her own judgment, once she’s “fully informed” about the pros and cons. “On the basis of the same information, some women will choose screening, and others will not.” I agree—that’s why I’m doing this video series to lay out the benefits and the harms.

    When it comes to medical treatments, I think most patients understand there are risks and benefits: drugs can have side effects; surgeries can have complications. So, you can make your decision based on whether you think the benefits outweigh the risks. But, “patients have been taught to think differently about screening.” What’s the harm? Who wouldn’t want to know if you have cancer? It’s a no-brainer. But, “in reality, the truth is more nuanced. There are benefit and harms to consider in screening—just as there are in treatment.”

    In the case of mammograms, “the most frequent harm is a false-positive result,” where they think they see something on the scan, but after further testing—more X-rays, ultrasound, or a biopsy—it turns out to be nothing. Phew. As you can imagine, this can cause a “roller coaster of emotions.” “Experiencing a false-positive result can [be an] agonising experience…,” sometimes “profoundly” affecting a woman’s life. Some women then can get depressed, anxious, and lose sleep over it, even months later. Even after getting the all clear, breast cancer worries can persist, even a year or more later. And, beyond psychological effects, if you have to go in for a biopsy, they obviously use local anesthesia during the procedure, but the pain afterwards can sometimes persist for days or weeks.

    Continue at NutritionFacts: Consequences of False Positive Mammogram Results.

    Maybe you prefer to read the transcript instead of watching this video? To see the full transcript or links to cited sources go to the link above, then scroll below the video and click on View Transcript or Sources Cited. This is part five of a 14 part series. Other videos in this series are listed in the Doctor's Note below the video.

    More in the category Health and Medical.

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