Posts tagged ‘mammograms’

Early detection of Breast Cancer is good and subsequently results in better treatment with better results and total cure. However, there are huge drawbacks and pitfalls when the mammogram makes false positive diagnosis.

A study published in British Journal of Surgery suggests that wrongly diagnosed women suffer from depression and anxiety and have to lead a reduced quality of life for as much as one year. Though breast cancer screening has its benefits, women who receive false-positive results tend to go under a shell and lead a low quality of life.

At times, the mammogram may show a positive result (even if cancerous cells are absent) which makes the person concerned enter a depressive phase of life. Hence, the physicians the world over are endeavoring to caution womanhood of this pitfall of breast screening.

Researchers from Netherlands had a brief interaction with 385 women who were detected with abnormal mammogram. Out of them, 152 later got diagnosed with cancer but the remaining 233 had false-positive results and were not home to cancerous cells.

Women with abnormal mammograms had their Quality of Life (QoL) assessed with the major factors being their physical health, psychological health, level of independence, social relationships, environment and spirituality.

Women with false-positive were found to be having a low QoL . These women suffered intense anguish, anxiety and depression until further diagnosis showed that they don’t have cancer. At times, this phase of anxiety may go up to a span of 1 year and significantly alter the life style of the victims.

Dr Dr Lideke van der Steeg from the Department of Surgery, St Elisabeth Hospital, Tilburg, and the Centre of Research and Psychology in Somatic Diseases, Tilburg University says that often, women overestimate the risk of breast cancer. They need to be furnished with more balanced information that would give them the choice of whether or not to accept a breast screening invitation.


The results of a new study on breast cancer was published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (October 7 issue). The findings reveal that women diagnosed with early breast cancers face a risk of recurrence if the mammograms show dense breast tissues. The results also show the increased incidence of recurrence in the opposing breast in such cases.

The study was conducted by observing 935 women diagnosed with an early breast cancer. This particular kind of carcinoma is known as ductal carcinoma in situ, DCIS in short and is  usually  treated by means of breast conserving surgeries.

The results showed that most of the women whose breasts appeared to be dense in screening mammograms had an increased risk of developing secondary breast cancers.  While the increase in risk was double for women with dense breasts, the possibility of developing it in the opposing breast was three fold.

DCIS is usually limited to cancer cells which have not spread beyond the milk glands. A follow up on the study showed that 164 of the women had developed secondary cancers of the same breast while 59 of them had new cancers on the other breast. Laurel A. Habel, one of the research scientists associated with the Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research, Oakland, Calif. says that breast density is considered to be an important risk factor much like the family history.

The dense breast tissue appears white on the mammograms as it consists of breast ducts and connective tissue while the non-dense one is dark gray in color as they are mainly composed of fat.

The exact mechanism of how a dense breast tissue can stimulate cells into becoming cancerous is, however, still not clear.