Law Office of Robert A. Miller
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Mammograms and false-positive results

Oregon women know the importance of getting annual mammograms. However, an Illinois study shows that women who receive a false-positive result are more likely to skip or delay their next screening, which could be a deadly error.

Researchers studied data on about 741,000 mammograms conducted on approximately 262,000 women in the Chicago area. Of those mammograms, a little more than 12 percent produced a false-positive result. Researchers found that 22 percent of women who received a false-positive result did not have a subsequent mammogram listed in the database. In comparison, only 15 percent of women who received a negative result failed to schedule their next mammogram. Further, women with more than one screening in the database were up to 36 percent more likely to have another mammogram within the next three years than women who received a false-positive result after their first screening.

According to the authors of the study, skipped or delayed mammograms can be harmful to a woman's health. The study found the chances of being diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer within the next fours years was 0.3 percent for women who had a negative result and 0.4 percent for those who received a false-positive. For women over the age of 50, skipping a mammogram in alternate years could result in up to 30 percent of cancers being missed.

Unfortunately, breast cancer can be misdiagnosed even when women regularly schedule mammograms. A doctor's failure to diagnose cancer can cause the disease to spread and lead to a needlessly worsened condition. Victims of a delayed diagnosis may have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent doctor who made the mistake. They may want to meet with an attorney in order to see if doing so would be advisable.

Source: US News, "Many Women Skip Mammograms After False-Positive Result," Robert Preidt, Feb. 9, 2017

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