Risks and Dangers of Medical Test “False Positives”

A woman goes in to see her doctor for a routine Pap smear. To the woman’s dismay, the test comes back positive for cervical cancer. The doctor recommends an immediate hysterectomy—a devastating recommendation considering the woman, in her prime childbearing years, was trying with her husband to conceive her first child. Preferring life to childbirth, she agrees to the hysterectomy. Except there was no cancer. After the hysterectomy, the doctors discover the woman’s Pap smear had yielded a “false positive,” identifying an illness that wasn’t really present. Sadly, this scenario happens more often than you might think. Medical tests of…

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