Cutting Through The Clutter


In the Wall Street Journal dated today, April 2, there is yet another article calling in to question the validity of regular mammograms. This comes on the heels of a large Canadian study that found that regular mammograms did not effect the death rates from breast cancer.

The focus of the studies seem to weigh the numbers of breast cancers discovered verses the number of over-diagnosed breast cancers and unnecessary biopsies. Over diagnosed breast cancers are cancers that are not invasive, but once diagnosed are surgically treated in the same manner as an aggressive cancer. The numbers released in the Study cited in the Journal of the American Medical Association are listed below in the chart:

For every 10,000 women who undergo annual mammograms over 10 years –

Age Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Cancer Deaths Deaths Averted By Mammogram Overdiagnosed
Breast Cancers
False Positives Unnecessary Biopsies
40 190 27-32 1-16 ?-104 6,130 700
50 302 56-64 3-32 30-137 6,130 940
60 438 87-97 5-49 64-194 4,970 980

So, what do you make of the information? If you are on of the 200 to over 400 whose cancers are found then you wouldn’t change a thing. If you are in the 1-50 women whose lives are saved you certainly wouldn’t want to change the opportunity for others to have the same result. But the bottom line is that with every study the chances increase that recommendations may change in the future.

It would be so simple if all women followed a precise timeline of risk, but that is not the case. The important factor, the one that wasn’t mentioned in all of the studies, is your personal risk factor. It’s important to know what your personal risk. It is also important to discuss with your physician at The Woman’s Clinic your concerns, family history, and make a plan together.

No study addresses your specific concerns. Make An Appointment today.

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