The results of a long-term health trial which found no difference in death rates from breast cancer among women who had regular mammograms and those who did not may further confuse the actual necessary rate of these exams, according to The New York Times.
The annual mammogram has been promoted vociferously and continuously as an essential way to protect oneself from breast cancer for decades. But, in light of accumulating data in addition to this trial, the benefits of regular mammography may prove to be negligible for women when it leads to false positives and overtreatment.
Attitudes have been changing in terms of intensive screening for other types of cancer; the American Urological Association has loosened its prostate cancer screening guidelines for men because of the potential for unnecessary, invasive treatment that often leads to incontinence and impotence.
Patients and their doctors will face much more nuanced choices as the days of one-size-fits-all screening may be ending. Women may now face options based on each woman’s risk for breast cancer and her feelings about the prospect of unnecessary treatment.
As Dr. Russell P. Harris, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, stated, “The balance between benefits and harms is more and more up in the air.” Read the full details here:
All we have heard for years is the importance of annual mammograms. Now there appears to be some disagreement on whether an annual mammogram is right for every woman. This is something all women should discuss with their gynecologists.
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