Mammograms? Yes!

Fall 2002 CSANews Issue 44  |  Posted date : Apr 09, 2007.Back to list

Mammograms are in the news again, causing confusion and dismay. This time it's a study that concludes there's no evidence that mammograms save lives. Many women are wondering if they should continue having this long-recommended screening test. The June issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource reports that the consensus of many major medical organizations ­ including the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and Mayo Clinic ­ is a resounding yes.

The current controversy centers on a Danish report that evaluated eight previously published studies about mammograms. The Danish study reported major flaws in six of the eight studies and pointed out that the other two studies showed no effect on the reduction of breast cancer deaths due to mammography screening. The medical community reacted strongly against the Danish analysis, so the Danish researchers reanalyzed their data, only to come to the same conclusions.

In response, the USPSTF completed its own review of mammography studies. It looked at the eight most current mammography trials (all of which have been published since 1996), and while they found some important shortcomings in some of the study methods, the task force concluded that these limitations were not likely to change the overall results of the studies. In fact, the USPSTF found reductions in breast cancer deaths averaged about 25 percent.

Mammograms are not perfect. They do miss some cancers, and they sometimes indicate cancer where there is none. Nonetheless, mammography is still the best test available to detect breast cancer early. After reaching its own pro-mammography conclusion, the task force came out with an even stronger recommendation for regular mammography screenings. They now recommend that all women over age 40 have mammograms every one to two years, depending on their personal medical history.

Source: Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource