Australian breast cancer false positives among lowest in the world

The study, presented today at the Sydney International Breast Cancer Congress, analysed data from nearly 233,000 women aged 40 and older who underwent a total 806,415 mammograms at BreastScreen NSW Sydney West between 1993 and 2008.

In 50-year-old women there were 30 false-positives for 1000 screened, compared to 87 per 1000 in the US Preventive Services Task Force systematic review of breast screening, researcher Professor John Boyages said.

The cumulative risk of a woman being recalled at least once over 20 years was 18.6% for a woman aged 50 not using HRT and having a mammogram every couple of years. In the US it was 50–60% in private settings and in European public settings the rate ranged from 20–30%.

Professor Boyages, chair of the conference and director of the Macquarie University Cancer Institute, said over 20 years the chance of a woman having a complicated biopsy causing significant stress was about 4.5%.