New research sheds new light on the 'false positives' experienced by about 10% of women who undergo mammograms, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

  A 'false positive' is when the mammogram turns up signs of cancer, but the next step, a biopsy, shows that cancer is not present.

  The American Cancer Society says women who have one or more false positive readings are actually at greater risk for developing breast cancer in the coming years.

  "It may be that these false positives are really not false positives after all," said Dr. Steven Kalter, an oncologist at San Antonio's START Center for Cancer Caere.

  Dr. Kalter says it may be that the mammogram has detected a 'biological change' in the breast which is precursor to cancer, like cells growing more rapidly.  He says it could also be detecting a 'scar' in the breast, which also is an early indicator of breast cancer, but he says it is not advanced to the point were it can be detected.

   "The mammograms perhaps detected a breast cancer earlier than it could be diagnosed," he said.

  Dr. Kalter says the research may be alarming to women who have had false positives, but he says it is in many ways an opportunity for these women to take charge of their cancer, and head it off very early.

  "Just because it was a false positive doesn't mean they are not going to detect cancer, in fact, they may do so at an increased rate."

  He says women should avoid the temptation to be 'scared away' from regular mammograms due to the trauma of undergoing a false positive.

  Dr. Kalter says while more frequent mammograms are not called for unless the woman is at an advanced genetic risk for breast cancer, the experience should convince women to stick to a regular schedule of mammograms, because breast cancer is one of the easiest cancers to defeat if detected early.

  Researchers say there is no indication that the types of breast cancers that women with false positives get are any more advanced or aggressive.