Many of us believed that “mammograms saved lives” and that “early detection” was the key to eliminating breast cancer. Recent studies have proven this not to be true. And, in fact the studies show that 1 life will be saved for every 2,000 women screened and 8-10 women will be harmed.
Studies have also shown that mammograms do not result in any survival benefit and can instead lead to unnecessary tests, over diagnosis and over treatment. This is because they often find precancers that may not need treatment. From a February 12, 2014, NY Times article: Vast Study Casts Doubts on Value of Mammograms.
In a December 30, 2013 JAMA article, Dr. Gilbert Welch etal also found that “among 1000 US women aged 50 years who are screened annually for a decade, 0.3 to 3.2 will avoid a breast cancer death, 490 to 670 will have at least 1 false alarm, and 3 to 14 will be overdiagnosed and treated needlessly.”
Plus a 2015 JAMA article by Dr. Steven Narod found the breast cancer–specific mortality was 3.3% at 20 years for a DCIS diagnosis whether the DCIS was treated or not, regardless of the type of treatment used.
Then too over the years, the cumulative radiation from mammograms may cause DNA damage and increase a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer. An additional worry is that the compression of a mammogram may actually cause any tumor present to spread.
Better alternatives to excessive mammograms may be some combination of monthly self exams, yearly clinical exams, thermograms, ultrasounds and MRIs, depending on the age of the woman, her risk levels and the density of her breasts.
We are now faced with a huge dilemma. Following are some very interesting articles and videos which make us question the benefits and harms of mammography: