Cancer Screening: False Positives vs. False Negatives

Lawrence L. Lapin

Twitter: @LarryLLapin

Early cancer screening is fraught with two types of errors. The false positive flags an abnormality that later proves absent. The false negative is to let a screened malignancy erroneously remain undetected.

The false positive is quite prevalent with mammograms, especially in younger women. It can lead to unnecessary costly and painful procedures. Early mammograms have been discouraged in young women because follow-on biopsies do cause minor harm and may bring t psychological damage, even when no cancer is found.

False positives are endemic with PSA testing for prostate cancer in men of all ages. PSA screening is not only notoriously unreliable but also cannot distinguish between a smoldering carcinoma that never kills and a hot life-threatening condition

Of course, the false positive must be balanced against the false negative and issues from not screening at all. In the case of mammograms, a strong case has been made for not screening younger women unless there are independent extenuating circumstances. For prostate cancer, older men will often opt not to be tested, as the test gives positive predictions mostly for a cancer that doesn’t kill. The cure in older men becomes much worse than the disease.

In my book, Adam… Forever, the dilemma of false positives and negatives is ratcheted up by orders of magnitude. My story’s hero, Adam Boatwright, is severely conflicted by the potential for cancer in his wife, Vera. Her mother and sister have familial breast cancer of the worst kind. Both carried the BRCA gene. Surgeon Adam pushes his wife to consider pre-emptive mastectomy.

Vera is a professional violinist and might lose her career due to muscle loss from mastectomy. She not only refuses the surgery, but she does not even want to know if she has the killer gene. She dreads fighting off her husband’s demand for pre-emptive surgery should she have the BRCA gene. A geneticist as well as surgeon, Adam continuously faces temptation to gather a DNA sample from a napkin containing his wife’s saliva and get the test for BRCA over with. But he knows that would violate marital trust and might kill his marriage—even if the trouble gene never passed on to Vera.

Desperate, Adam will find a unique solution to this dilemma.


Prequel to the Adam’s Chronicles series. The story tells how geneticist and surgeon, Adam Boatwright, uses his skills to prevent his wife’s impending cancer. Adam engineers a super virus that continually generates chemicals that fight off viruses and cancer.

As a test, Adam infects himself with that mutant virus. But the side effect is prevention of aging, and he becomes virtually immortal. Convinced that long lives would destroy the human race, Adam becomes caught in a web of intrigue and conspiracy as he tries to stop profiteers from exploiting his super virus.

Find out more about my Amazon Kindle E-Book at:

(Amazon offers a free app for reading its E-Books on PCs, iPads, etc.)

The Adam’s Chronicles Series

Layout 1      Adam's New World 0616 (Small)      Adam's Tiger 0616 (Small)      Layout 1

Adam’s story is always brought up to date in fresh ways, so that books in this series may be read in any order.

The following book is the series prequel and may be read independently.


All of the above are available at Amazon as Kindle E-Books.

What Others Say About This Series

Awesome story of restoration of Earth—an epic novel, one that shall never be forgotten. Dr. Lapin is truly gifted as a story teller. … Powerful, fast page turning story. Highly recommend—Nancy of Utah, Amazon Reviewer.

Great book, it is the kind of book you can’t wait to read again—Sandra Potter, Amazon Reviewer.

I am fascinated by the quality of this book. … A wonderful blend of thrilling adventure, science fiction and romance. … It delivers on so many different levels. Well done—Dennis Waller, Top 500 Amazon Reviewer.

This story had every element … an exciting plot, attention to detail, but best of all fleshed out, well-written and well-rounded character development. Abundance of well-illustrated scenes. … had me immersed from the beginning. The story flows … with ease, and the author shows exceptional skill when it comes to storytelling. … Twists and turns in this page turner … make you want to read it non-stop. … Highly recommended—Piaras, Amazon Reviewer.

Phenomenal series offers elements of the thriller, mystery, science fiction, and romance genres. Dr. Lapin’s novels are exciting, with wonderfully developed characters and situations—Jada Ryker, Top 1,000 Amazon Reviewer.

Mad scientist or brave hero? … A murder mystery, medical thriller, and science fiction novel all rolled into one. I recommend it highly—Diane Rapp, Amazon Reviewer.

A fast paced story so plausible that I had trouble figuring the line where science fact and science fiction resides. … That credibility made the debate about the desirability of immortality real instead of fantasy. … An entertaining read—Capt’n Bob, Amazon Reviewer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *