Research published in The British Medical Journal examines effectiveness of mammograms vs. breast exams
LEBANON, Pa. – A recent study published in The British Medical Journal casts doubt on the effectiveness and necessity of yearly mammograms for women of any age. Researchers conducting the Canadian National Breast Screening Study say they compared the mortality of women who received mammograms with the mortality of women who received breast exams alone. According to their findings printed this week in the New York Times, the women who received mammograms had no advantage in detecting breast cancer over those who had breast exams.
The findings are a concern for many, including PA Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) President and Founder Pat Halpin-Murphy. “We know mammograms can save lives. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition interacts with women on a daily basis who have been diagnosed with breast cancer during their yearly mammograms,” Halpin-Murphy said. “Presently, there is no way to tell which women will be helped by early detection and which women will not. Until a more definitive screening method is available, mammograms are the best screening tool we currently have.”
The American Cancer Society screening guidelines recommend yearly mammograms for women starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health. Clinical breast exams are recommended every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.
As quoted in the New York Times, the American Cancer Society has formed an expert panel which will consider all studies of mammography, including this latest study. The panel will then issue revised guidelines later this year. According to Dr. Richard C. Wender, chief of cancer control for the society, clinical trial data shows mammography reduces the death rate from breast cancer by at least 15 percent for women in their 40s and by at least 20 percent in older women.
To read the New York Times article, follow this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/12/health/study-adds-new-doubts-about-value-of-mammograms.html?hpw&rref=health&_r=0
To read the complete Canadian National Breast Screening Study, follow this link: http://press.psprings.co.uk/bmj/february/breastscreening.pdf
About the PA Breast Cancer Coalition
The PBCC represents, supports and serves breast cancer survivors and their families in Pennsylvania through educational programming, legislative advocacy and breast cancer research grants. The PBCC is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure now…so our daughters won’t have to. For more information, please call 800-377-8828 or visit www.PABreastCancer.org.
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