Mammograms – Worth it?

Recent report from WDDTY makes interesting reading about the routine use of mammograms for detecting breast cancer. Doesn’t seem to be helping save lives from the cancer but I am pleased to read that rates are declining – and it seems started the decline before the mammogram push.

I have spoken to quite a few women who think that routine mammograms have damaged their breast tissue and they feel that damage was a factor in their developing the cancer later (who knows, but that’s what they feel) and I have also written  here about experts in the field actually choosing not to have them themselves, which speaks volumes to me. One lady I know has taken the stance of preferring to rely on thermal breast tissue imaging, which is not widespread yet but I have read quite a bit about it that looks good.

I wrote here about Is a Mammography Helpful? and here is the WDDTY report for you:

Routine mammograms for breast cancer haven’t saved any lives

Mass routine mammogram screening for breast cancer hasn’t saved any lives – even though the death rate from the cancer has been steadily declining since 1972, long before mammography was introduced.

Mass screening has been introduced in most developed countries at an enormous cost, and with the expectation that it would reduce the deaths from breast cancer by up to 30 per cent.

Yet when researchers compared the take-up of the screening programmes to mortality rates, they discovered no benefit whatsoever.  In fact, deaths from breast cancer have been falling steadily since 1972, and have continued to fall at the same rate ever since.  This has not been affected by mammogram screening, which reached its peak in 1997.

Researchers from the International Prevention Research Institute based their research on breast cancer death rates and screening levels in Sweden from 1972 to the present day, but a similar picture can be drawn for most developed nations.

“It seems paradoxical that the downward trends in breast cancer mortality have evolved practically as if screening had never existed”, said one researcher.

(Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2012; doi: 10.1093/jnci/djs272).

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