Based on the available research, the Nordic Cochrane Center deems it no longer reasonable for women to get mammograms. Because of a recent question asked: do mammograms cause cancer in healthy women?
Recent studies all suggest that routine mammography screenings do not reduce your risk of dying from breast cancer.
The Nordic Cochrane Center, an international independent research and informational center that conducts reviews on the effects of healthcare, recently published a leaflet outlining the benefits and potential negative effects of mammography screening.
Findings indicate that healthy women are being treated for an illness they don’t have and never would have developed. More specifically, only 1 out of 2000 women will benefit from early detection of breast cancer from a mammogram. Couple that low ratio with the fact that 200 disease-free women will be diagnosed with false positives, and the effectiveness of do mammograms cause cancer is rightfully called into question.
Ten of these misdiagnosed women would have to suffer through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the effects of which do nothing but increase their risk of developing heart disease and actual cancer in the future. Not to mention surgeries in which healthy women lose part, or even the entire, breast.
A resounding question arises: Is the life of 1 woman worth the lives of 10?
The British Medical Journal published a follow-up study conducted by researchers at the University of Southhampton. Their assessment, which concurred with the findings of the Nordic Cochrane Center, was featured on ABC News, with the University’s professor of health technology, James Raftery, reporting:
“The default is to assume that screening must be good; catching something early must be good. But if a woman has an unnecessary mastectomy, or chemotherapy or radiation, that’s a tragedy…It’s difficult to balance the gain of one life against 200 false positives and 10 unnecessary surgeries.”
A Norwegian follow-up study analyzed 14 years of mammography screenings in Norway. The report showed that breast cancer diagnoses increased by 1050 women since mammography screening became routine. The majority of these diagnoses were, however, erroneous: 800 of these women would never have become breast cancer patients, as their tumors were benign.
These findings point to the unfortunate conclusion: mammograms harm more women than they help.
These reports certainly come as no surprise to the many doctors and scientists who advised against mammography screening. Take for instance Professor Malcolm C. Pike of the University of Southern California School of Medicine who, in 1974, cautioned the National Cancer Institute (NCI) against mammography screening. Citing the opinion of numerous specialists Pike warned, “giving a woman under age 50 a mammogram on a routine basis is close to unethical.”
Grumbling was also prevalent at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Device Evaluation, where doctors and scientists insisted on informing Congress of the unsafe medical devices that were being approved. These devices, they claimed, would put millions of lives in jeopardy.
Among these devices were 3 breast cancer screening apparatuses that were proven ineffective at catching signs of breast cancer. Several colon cancer screening devices subjected patients to such high levels of radiation that patients’ risk of developing cancer actually increased.
Evidence of the FDA’s blatant mismanagement was further exemplified when senior manager Donna-Bea Tillman approved a device that had been rejected for approval by scientists on 3 separate occasions.
The conventional recommendation – that women over 40 get an annual mammogram – is now being challenged by organizations such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which recommends that women under 50 forgo mammography screening and that women over 50 get checked once every other year.
Diagnosis of breast cancer is prone to error. A mammogram can only detect an abnormal lump in the breast tissue, but cannot diagnose that abnormality. A biopsy, in which doctors remove a small amount of breast tissue, is then performed and the sample analyzed by a pathologist to determine whether or not cancer is present.
Determination is subjective and dependent upon the pathologist’s range of experience and expertise. There are currently no diagnostic standards in place for early stage cancer detection, like ductal carcinoma in situ, or D.C.I.S, and pathologists do not have to have specialized experience.
While breast cancer treatment has improved, diagnosis is still subjective. If diagnosed with breast cancer, it is imperative to get a 2nd, 3rd, even 4th diagnosis.