INTRODUCTION: Studies have shown that women with a false-positive result from mammography screening have an excess risk for breast cancer compared with women who only have negative results. We aimed to assess the excess risk of cancer after a false-positive result excluding cases of misclassification, i.e. women who were actually false-negatives instead of false-positives. METHOD: We used data from the Copenhagen Mammography Screening Programme, Denmark. The study population was the 295 women, out of 4743 recalled women from a total of 58,003 participants, with a false-positive test during the screening period 1991-2005 and who later developed breast cancer. Cancers that developed in the same location as the finding that initially caused the recall was studied in-depth in order to establish whether there had been misclassification. RESULTS: Seventy-two cases were found to be misclassified. When the women with misclassified tests had been excluded, there was an excess risk of breast cancer of 27% (RR=1.27, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11-1.46) among the women with a false-positive test compared to women with only negative tests. Women with a false-positive test determined at assessment had an excess risk of 27%, while false-positives determined at surgery had an excess risk of 30%. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that the increased risk is not explained only by misclassification. The excess risk remains for false-positives determined at assessment as well as at surgery, which favours some biological susceptibility. Further research into the true excess risk of false positives is warranted.
Cancer Epidemiology, 2014, Vol 38, Issue 5, p. 619-22