False-positive results and additional imaging are common among younger women and women with risk factors for breast cancer who are screened with digital mammography. Biopsy occurs less often and rates of false-negative screening results are low. The analysis is published in Annals of Internal Medicine and was used to inform updated clinical practice recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Clinical guidelines recommend a personalized approach to mammography screening that takes into account individual risk factors for breast cancer as well as the potential benefits and harms of screening. Researchers used registry data for more than 400,0000 women aged 40 to 89 to estimate rates of false-positive and false-negative digital mammography results and subsequent imaging and biopsies among a general population of women undergoing screening with digital mammography.
They found that false-positives and recommendations for additional imaging were highest among women younger women, or those aged 40 to 49 years. These rates decreased with age. Rates of false-negative results were generally low. Risk factors for breast cancer, such as positive family history, previous biopsy, high breast density, and low body mass index for younger women, were associated with higher risk for false-positive result.
Article: Factors Associated With Rates of False-Positive and False-Negative Results From Digital Mammography Screening: An Analysis of Registry Data, Heidi D. Nelson, MD, MPH; Ellen S. O'Meara, PhD; Karla Kerlikowske, MD, MPH; Steven Balch, MA, MBA; and Diana Miglioretti, PhD, Annals of Internal Medicine, doi:10.7326/M15-0971, published online 12 January 2016.