According to a new study in Value in Health, women coping with the strain of being mistakenly diagnosed with breast cancer have not been adequately studied in the past. The focus of the study is a new survey that accurately assesses the negative effects of false diagnosis and provides useful information to health care practitioners and researchers.
“We know that having a false alarm at a breast cancer screening causes significant negative psychological harm,” says Dr. John Brodersen, co-author of the study. “Unfortunately, previous studies of the long-term psychological consequences of these false alarms have used inadequate measures.”
The survey, developed by Brodersen and his colleagues, focuses on six psychosocial dimensions; anxiety, behavioral impact, sense of dejection, impact on sleep, breast examination and sexuality. The survey showed that women who had an abnormal screening mammography later confirmed to be false-positive were negatively influenced in all six categories.
“This is an urgent issue to be addressed, because one-in-four women following the European Union-recommended biannual breast cancer screening program over a 20-year period will experience a false-positive screening mammogram,” says Brodersen. “Thousands of women experience false-positive screening results. Therefore, women should be better informed both before breast cancer screening and during the screening process. This should include a discussion about the implications of a false-positive result, as well as the benefits of early detection of breast cancer.”
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