Mammograms -Who Needs Them?
Excerpt from Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
By Susun S. Weed
Mammograms are inaccurate
Low-radiation mammograms are safer mammograms, but less radiation means
a fuzzier picture. Standard x-rays-rarely used any more for breasts-create
an easy-to-interpert high-radiation image. Xerograms use half that radiation,
but are twice as hard to read. Film-screen mammography, the latest very-low-radiation
exam, gives an image that's even more difficult to interpret. More than
10 percent of all screening mammograms done at one large center in 1992
couldn't be read and had to be redone.2
A 1994 study showed wide variation in the accuracy with which mammograms
are interpreted. Understandably, those who read screening mammograms
regularly are more accurate than those who rarely do; in some hospitals,
however, work loads are so heavy that accuracy suffers from lack of
time, not inexperience.
Roughly 8 out of 10 "positive" mammographic reports are "false
positive," that is, a subsequent biopsy does not confirm the presence
of cancer. And as many as half (10-15 percent at an excellent facility)
of all "negative" mammographic reports are "false negative."
According to current data, if all American women 40-50 years old were
screened yearly by mammogram, 40 out of every 100 breast cancers would
be missed.4 If all women over 50 were screened, 13 out of every 100
breast cancers would be missed. Half of all breast cancers in women
under 45 are invisible on a mammogram.5 Screening mammograms often miss
the deadliest breast cancers: fast-growing tumors in premenopausal women.
Read the rest of Chapter 5 (click on any
Mammograms - Who needs
can't tell if there's cancer.
don't replace breast self-exams.
screening increases risk of breast cancer mortality in premenopausal
Why I haven't
had a baseline mammogram.
mammograms lead to overtreatment.
mammograms don't increase your chances of being cured . . . or of surviving
don't find cancer before it metastasizes.
mammograms life saving for women over 55?
screening mammograms aren't cost effective to society nor are they safe
a less risky way to participate in screening mam-mography?
distract us from the need for societal commitment to true prevention.
other ways to find early-stage breast cancers?
don't promote breast health.
Decide to Have a Mammogram.
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