Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Does Mammography Result in Overtreatment?

continued...

Woloshin's survey also found that the vast majority of women are aware that mammography can sometimes indicate an abnormality that isn't actually there, commonly referred to as a false-positive result. False-positive results can cause unnecessary anxiety, testing, and occasionally treatment, but most women surveyed said they felt such results are an acceptable part of the screening process.

The women also were asked about the safety of mammography and the perceived benefit. Overall, 92% of women thought mammography was safe, and 94% believed that women whose cancer was diagnosed by mammography benefited from being screened. Most women also believed mammography reduced the chance of dying from breast cancer, although none thought mammography reduced the risk to zero.

The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms for all women 40 years of age and older. Along with having mammograms, women should also perform monthly breast self-exams, and those 40 years of age and older should receive an exam of the breast and underarm by a health care professional each year. Any unusual nipple discharge, mass, tenderness, or dimpling of the skin should be reported to a physician immediately.

Vital Information:

  • Women may understand the importance of receiving regular mammograms, but they may not know about common abnormalities that may be detected.
  • One such abnormality is ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is a precancerous lesion that may or may not progress to breast cancer, but there isn't a consensus on how this should be managed.
  • Another common occurrence is when mammography picks up an abnormality that isn't really there, known as a false-positive.
1|2

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW