False cancer diagnosis impacts women for years

There's No Substitute for Experience

Any Tennessee resident who has heard the grim diagnosis of cancer knows how life changing it can be. Suddenly there are talks of more tests, procedures and specialists. In many cases, everything seems to be happening just so quickly that there is almost no time to breathe. Understandably, many who receive a cancer diagnosis also start to contemplate if this is going to be the end.

With all of these worries, it is no wonder that false-positive mammography results can end up having a psychological impact on patients for some years to come. In fact, a recent study even found the psychological effects can last for three years. Given the fact that false-positives range from 20 percent to 60 percent in the U.S., the study is quite important in order to get a better understanding of how inaccurate test results can greatly impact a person's life.

The study compared those women who received a normal mammography, those who received false-positive results, and those who did in fact have breast cancer. From there the psychological impact was measured at numerous times, including after the screening, one month after, six months after, 18 months after, 36 months after and after the final diagnosis.

Not surprising, those with abnormal initial results had greater psychological consequences than those with normal results. At one month, those though with a false-positive still had greater consequences, but not as great as those with breast cancer. This continued on until the 36 month point where there finally was no difference in psychological consequences from those with normal mammography results and false-positive results.

What all of this goes to show though is that there are great risks associated with false-positives. Not only can this end up equating to unnecessary medical procedures, but a patient may make significantly different life choices and have to deal with a dangerously high level of stress, fear and anxiety.

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