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Many mammogram tests result in false-positives
Posted By Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge || Nov 4, 2012
When it comes to women's health, we constantly hear the message about being proactive. And while of course taking healthy steps like eating right and exercising are proven ways to prevent some types of diseases, when it comes to certain cancer screenings, getting the tests themselves may result in some negative repercussions.
Back in September, we posted on the fact that screening healthy women for ovarian cancer may do more harm than good due to false-positives and unnecessary surgeries stemming from those inaccurate test results. Now, it turns out that mammograms may also result in over-treatment.
A recent review, which included trials from the U.S., found that for every one woman's life that is saved due to detection through a mammogram, another three women end up going through unnecessary treatments due to the very same tests. Often times these treatments include surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy, which are all treatments that carry with them their own risks.
When it comes to this over-diagnosing, according to the review, quite what happens is that women are given a positive result even though the cancers are growing too slowly to ever actually put their lives at risk. Many times this means the extensive treatments, such as chemotherapy and surgery, would not actually ever be necessary.
Of course this isn't to say there are not positives to mammograms and other screenings, as failure to diagnose cancer is another issue entirely. Rather, the fact that for everyone one life saved, three more women go through unnecessary treatments is just something to think about.