Scientists in Sweden have found that if a woman is mistakenly told she has breast cancer (after a mammogram, for example), then those women are more likely than others to actually develop breast cancer in the next 20 years. It turns out that an error in diagnosis will not only scare you in vain, but also seems to signal a risk for the future.
This is especially true for those whose breasts are not very dense. Apparently, there are some subtleties with mammography and tumor detection.
So, here’s the thing: scientists examined a whole bunch of women and noticed that those who were initially told “oh, it looks like you have cancer” actually had an increased risk. Moreover, the risk increased most of all in the first 4-6 years after such a false start, and this problem was especially acute for women aged 60 to 75 years.
This detection is important because screening is our chance to catch cancer at an early stage and give medicine a head start in the fight against it. After all, if it is detected late, there are fewer chances and the treatment is more difficult.
The problem is that although such examinations are useful, after an error they may require additional procedures such as a biopsy, which not everyone is comfortable with. In addition, an error in diagnosis can be so frightening that the woman will then stop going for examinations altogether, so as not to face such stress again.