False-Positives and Unnecessary Biopsies With Annual Mammograms Over 10 Years

In women who have a mammogram every year for 10 years, about 613 out of 1,000 women ages 40 to 49 will have at least one false-positive test result; about 613 out of 1,000 women ages 50 to 59 will have at least one false-positive test result; and about 497 out of 1,000 women ages 60 to 69 will have at least one false-positive test result. In women who have a mammogram every year for 10 years, about 70 out of 1,000 women ages 40 to 49 will have a biopsy they do not need; about 94 out of 1,000 women ages 50 to 59 will have a biopsy they do not need; and about 98 out of 1,000 women ages 60 to 69 will have a biopsy they do not need.

Mammograms may show an abnormal result when it turns out there wasn't any cancer (called a false-positive). This means you may need more tests-such as another mammogram, a breast ultrasound, or a biopsy-to make sure you don't have cancer. These tests can be harmful and cause a lot of worry.

The information shown here is based on the best available evidence.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerWendy Y. Chen, MD, MPH, MD, MPH - Medical Oncology, Hematology

Current as ofMay 3, 2017

Current as of: May 3, 2017

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Wendy Y. Chen, MD, MPH, MD, MPH - Medical Oncology, Hematology