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Systematic review and meta-analysis
Available evidence suggests women with false-positive mammograms less likely to return for screening
  1. Kristin Kilbourn,
  2. Kellie Martens
  1. Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA
  1. Correspondence to : Dr Kristin Kilbourn, Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, 1200 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80217, USA; kristin.kilbourn{at}

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Implications for practice and research

  • More research is needed to understand the implications of the distress reported by women following false-positive mammograms.

  • Anxiety after a false-positive mammogram may affect women differently, among some women, exhibiting proactive health behaviours and others exhibiting avoidant behaviours.

  • Brief interventions should seek to reduce distress and encourage continued cancer prevention activities.


Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK and mammograms are offered to women aged between 47 and 73 years every 3 years to screen for breast cancer. Women with abnormal mammograms are recalled for further assessment. When a woman is recalled but no breast cancer is discovered, …

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  • Competing interests None.