False-positive results in mammographic screening for breast cancer in Europe: a literature review and survey of service screening programmes

S Hofvind, A Ponti, J Patnick, N Ascunce, S Njor, M Broeders, L Giordano, A Frigerio, S Tornberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

103 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To estimate the cumulative risk of a false-positive screening result in European mammographic screening programmes, and examine the rates and procedures of further assessment. Methods A literature review was conducted to identify studies of the cumulative risk of a false-positive result in European screening programmes (390,000 women). We then examined aggregate data, cross-sectional information about further assessment procedures among women with positive results in 20 mammographic screening programmes from 17 countries (1.7 million initial screens, 5.9 million subsequent screens), collected by the European Network for Information on Cancer project (EUNICE). Results The estimated cumulative risk of a false-positive screening result in women aged 50-69 undergoing 10 biennial screening tests varied from 8% to 21% in the three studies examined (pooled estimate 19.7%). The cumulative risk of an invasive procedure with benign outcome ranged from 1.8% to 6.3% (pooled estimate 2.9%). The risk of undergoing surgical intervention with benign outcome was 0.9% (one study only). From the EUNICE project, the proportions of all screening examinations in the progr Conclusion The specific investigative procedures following a recall should be considered when examining the cumulative risk of a false-positive screening result. Most women with a positive screening test undergo a non-invasive assessment procedure. Only a small proportion of recalled women undergo needle biopsy, and even fewer undergo surgical intervention.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Medical Screening
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Cite this