Despite ongoing awareness, educational campaigns, and advances in technology, breast cancer screening remains a complex topic for women and for the health care system. Lack of consensus among organizations developing screening guidelines has caused confusion for patients and providers. The psychosocial factors related to breast cancer screening are not well understood. The prevailing algorithm for screening results in significant rates of patient recall for further diagnostic imaging or procedures, the majority of which rule out breast cancer rather than confirming it. For women, the consequences of the status quo range from unnecessary stress to additional out-of-pocket expenses to indirect costs that are more difficult to quantify. A more thoughtful approach to breast cancer screening, coupled with a research agenda that recognizes the indirect and intangible costs that women bear, is needed to improve cost and quality outcomes in this area.
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