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To Screen or Not To Screen – That’s The Question

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The mammogram debate is about to get a little murkier. For the last year or so there has been a lot of debate about yearly mammograms – one side of the argument is that there are too many false positives leading to unnecessary follow-up testing and stress on the women involved. This group would like to see less frequent mammograms and stricter guidelines on surgical biopsies and follow-ups.

On the other side of the debate is the group that says some false positives are a small price to pay to find the few women who receive a life-saving diagnosis. Those women who have had small cancers discovered while still treatable will always fall on this side of the argument.

Now a new study out of Denmark will add further fuel to the fire – researchers there have determined that women with “false positive” mammograms are at greater risk for developing tumors later. At this point the recommendations are to consider it a risk factor, like a family history.

Of course, when 3-D and tomographic mammograms are readily available, most women will be spared the false positive scares and follow up tests will be limited. If you have a family history of breast cancer, a personal history of false positives, or other risk factors, you should speak to your TWC physician.