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Risk of Breast Cancer Increased For Those with False Positive Results

A new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention and covered by The New York Times reveals that those women who have received a false positive mammogram or breast biopsy are at greater risk of developing breast cancer over the next 10 years than are those women with a true negative result.

What Is a False Positive Result?

A false positive result is a mammogram result that indicates that cancer in the breast is present, when in truth the questionable finding is benign (not cancerous). According to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation, the more mammograms a woman has, the more likely it is that a doctor will find false positives. The chance of false positive results is also higher amongst younger women and women with dense breasts.

Higher Risk of Breast Cancer with a False Positive

The study cited above discovered that a woman with a false positive who was referred for further testing had a 39 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer than did a person with a true negative result. Amongst those with false positives who were referred for biopsy, the relative risk of actually developing breast cancer skyrocketed to 76 percent. The study used data on more than 2 million mammograms for women ages 40 to 74 over a 15-year period.

Why Is the Risk Greater with a False Positive?

Researchers are not certain why the risk may be greater for those women who had a false positive, especially as women with false positives identified in the study were not more likely that other women to have additional screenings, meaning that the number of mammograms is not a factor (the increase was not due to diagnostics). The closest the researchers came to a conclusion is that the finding of a benign tumor may be highly associated with future cancer.

Understanding Your Risk

If you are a woman, it is important that you understand your risk for breast cancer. Furthermore, based on the recent data highlighted in the study, it is important to know that even if you are given a false positive, you may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future – undergoing annual mammography examinations, especially if you are at an increased risk, may be key for catching cancer early on and treating it before it has spread.

What to Do When Breast Cancer is Undiagnosed

Your physician has a responsibility to inform you of your risks of developing breast cancer. Furthermore, if a questionable spot appears on your mammogram, your physician is medically obligated to order further tests to determine whether the spot is malignant or benign. If your doctor does not order the proper tests, does not diagnose your breast cancer, or does not treat the cancer appropriately, and if your cancer spreads as a direct result, you may have a medical malpractice claim.

Reach Out to an Attorney Today

At the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., our experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys can work with you to help you understand what your rights after after your breast cancer has spread due to a medical error. Call us today at (215) 567-3500 or request a free consultation online.

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