Harms of Screening Mammography
The major predictors of radiation risk are young age at exposure and dose. For women older than 40 years, the benefits of annual mammograms probably outweigh the potential risk, but certain subpopulations of women may have an inherited susceptibility to ionizing radiation damage. [20,21] In the United States, the mean glandular dose for screening mammography is 1 mGy to 2 mGy (100–200 mrad) per view or 2 mGy to 4 mGy (200–400 mrad) per standard two-view exam. [22,23]
Because large numbers of women have false-positive tests, the issue of psychological distress—which may be provoked by the additional testing—has been studied. A telephone survey of 308 women performed 3 months after screening mammography revealed that about one-fourth of the 68 women with a "suspicious" result were still experiencing worry that affected their mood or functioning, even though subsequent testing had ruled out a cancer diagnosis. Several studies,[25,26,27] however, show that the anxiety following evaluation of a false-positive test leads to increased participation in future screening examinations.
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