Psychological side effects of breast cancer screening

Health Psychol. 1991;10(4):259-67. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.10.4.259.


Evaluated the impact of receiving abnormal mammogram results on women's anxiety and breast cancer worries and on their breast self-examination (BSE) frequency and intentions to obtain subsequent mammograms. A telephone survey was conducted with 308 women 50 years old and older approximately 3 months following a screening mammogram. Subjects included women with suspicious abnormal mammograms, nonsuspicious abnormal mammograms, and normal mammograms. Women with suspicious abnormal mammograms exhibited significantly elevated levels of mammography-related anxiety and breast cancer worries that interfered with their moods and functioning, despite the fact that diagnostic work-ups had ruled out breast cancer. Women with moderate levels of impairment in mood or functioning were more likely to practice monthly BSE than women with either high or low levels of impairment. Breast cancer worries, perceived susceptibility to breast cancer, and physician encouragement to get mammograms all exhibited independent positive relationships to mammogram intentions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography / psychology*
  • Mass Screening / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sick Role*