Sunday, April 09, 2006

False-Positive Mammograms Vary Among Radiologists

A woman's chance of getting a false-positive result on a screening mammogram depends a lot on the radiologist interpreting the image, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Among the 24 radiologists interpreting the X-ray films, some produced false positives as seldom as about once for every 29 mammograms (3.5%) while others reported a false positive for every 13 mammograms (7.9%). Radiologists more recently out of medical school, with less mammography-reading experience, had two-to four-times the false-positive rates of older, more experienced radiologists.

So what can you do? The American Cancer Society advises that women return to the same mammography facility every year since radiologists will have their earlier mammogram films for comparison. And premenopausal women may wish to have mammograms when they are not menstruating, since there is some evidence to indicate that the increase in breast density during menstruation slightly reduces accuracy.


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