Objective: The stress experienced by women undergoing surveillance mammography for benign lesions was compared with that experienced by women undergoing core biopsy of benign lesions.
Materials and methods: A retrospective survey was mailed to women in whom were diagnosed breast abnormalities that were likely to be benign and that were stable at short-interval follow-up mammography (n = 174) or in whom a core biopsy of the breast was performed, with benign findings (n = 116). The survey included questions about stress related to the diagnostic experience as well as questions about who advised the women of the results of their breast imaging studies and about the information provided.
Results: Eighty eligible surveys were received from the women who underwent short-interval follow-up mammography, and 58 surveys were received from the women who underwent biopsies. The self-reported overall stress experienced by the women who underwent core biopsies was significantly greater (p < .001) than that reported by the group who were followed up with mammography. The level of anxiety was not affected by the patient's perception of the probability that the lesion represented carcinoma. We found no significant differences in stress between women who discussed their mammogram results with a radiologist and women who were notified by their primary care provider.
Conclusion: Short-interval follow-up mammography continues to be acceptable for the evaluation of lesions that are probably benign, even when patient anxiety is considered.