False positives can have damaging emotional effects

Scientists find another gene in breast cancers linked to BRCA 1 mutation

March 19, 2013 1:36:43 PM PDT
Mammograms have been criticized for the high rate of false positive results. A new study finds those results can have damaging effects years later.

A false positive result is when breast cancer is first suspected but then dispelled with further testing. The study in the Annals of Family Medicine finds the lingering anxiety and distress of such results can last up to three years after the misdiagnosis. Experts say the emotional fallout is probably so long lasting because the abnormal screening result is seen as a threat to your own mortality.

The risk of false positives for every 10 rounds of screening is estimated to range from 20- to 60- percent in the U.S.