Give an example of a case where you would assign a higher co…

Give an example of a case where you would assign a higher cost to False Negative (FN) then False Positive (FP) (it has to be an example other than the ones I mention in the presentation or video) Video Link: Submit your answer as a paragraph here.


In the field of medical diagnostics, there are instances where assigning a higher cost to false negatives (FN) rather than false positives (FP) is crucial. One such example can be found in cancer screening tests. Let us consider breast cancer screening using mammography as an illustration.

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women worldwide. Regular mammography screening has become a critical tool in early detection and management of breast cancer. However, mammography has inherent limitations, including a certain level of false results. A false negative occurs when a mammogram fails to detect cancer in a woman who does indeed have the disease, leading to a delayed diagnosis and potentially compromising her health outcome. On the other hand, a false positive refers to the situation where a mammogram incorrectly indicates the presence of cancer, resulting in unnecessary follow-up tests, anxiety, and, occasionally, invasive procedures such as biopsies.

Given the nature of breast cancer, it is generally considered more detrimental to miss the presence of cancer through a false negative than to incur the inconvenience and additional procedures associated with a false positive. An undetected breast cancer can grow and progress, potentially leading to more advanced stages of the disease, reduced treatment options, and poorer prognosis. In contrast, a false positive can be resolved through subsequent diagnostic tests that either confirm the absence of cancer or identify it at an early stage where appropriate intervention can take place.

Thus, in the context of breast cancer screening with mammography, a higher cost is assigned to false negatives due to the potential adverse consequences associated with missed diagnoses. The objective is to minimize false negatives and ensure early detection of breast cancers, as timely intervention improves the chances of successful treatment and improves patient outcomes. By assigning a higher cost to FN, the screening programs emphasize the importance of sensitivity (ability to detect true positives) as a crucial performance measure. This prioritization aims to strike a balance between minimizing false negatives while accepting an acceptable level of false positives to minimize harm.

It should be noted that assigning cost values in real-world scenarios is complex and depends on various factors, including disease prevalence, treatments available, and patient preferences. The example presented here highlights the general principle of assigning a higher cost to false negatives in certain contexts, such as breast cancer screening. The specific cost allocation and trade-offs may vary in different settings and should be carefully evaluated based on the specific circumstances and available evidence.

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