Sunday, February 13, 2011
I'm posting this because a number of similar articles have appeared in the past year or so. I'm only providing it as information for others to consider and comment, not as a factual news item, so please add or clarify any information if you can.
The quoted text has been condensed from the HSI health newsletter from the UK, and it is from an editorial by Jenny Thompson, one of its directors.
"The American College of Radiology advises all women over the age of 40 to get a yearly mammogram. But ACR is a national organization that represents thousands of radiologists, radiation oncologists, and other medical professionals whose livelihoods largely depend on putting your breasts between the plates of a mammography unit."
"...the over-used sales pitch ‘Mammography Saves Lives’ is very misleading to say the least. ... recently several mainstream doctors are finally stepping up and stating the truth about mammograms. ... And just about everything they're saying confirms exactly what we've been saying for years. ..."
"...the main question: Does mammography really save lives?..."
"...Dr. John D. Keen of Chicago's Cook County John H. Stroger, Jr., Hospital ... recently wrote this in the American Board of Family Medicine: 'The premise of a near universal life- saving benefit from finding pre-symptomatic breast cancer through mammography is false.'"
"He explains that, statistically, the chance that a mammogram will save a life is very slim. But women under the age of 50 who have a mammogram are 10 TIMES more likely to be over-diagnosed and over-treated!"
"Of course, other hardened souls in the medical mainstream will give you the testimonials of women who absolutely believe mammograms saved their lives when breast cancer was detected. ... But is this an emotional belief, or is it based on fact?"
"Here's what Dr. Karsten Juhl Jorgensen of Denmark's Nordic Cochrane Centre said about the typical woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer: 'There is no way of knowing if the symptom-free cancer she was diagnosed with would ever have developed into clinical disease. And if it was destined to do so, we cannot know if the screen-detection changed the prognosis in her particular case.'"
"Dr. Jorgensen adds that mammography offers "marginal benefits and serious harms." And: "A decision not to get screened can be as sensible and responsible as the decision to get screened."
"And finally, Dr. H. Gilbert Welch of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth Medical School, gave these estimates for mammogram screening of 2,500 women, beginning at age 50 and continuing for 10 years:
* About 1,000 false alarms
* About 1,250 biopsies
* Five to 15 women would be over-diagnosed and needlessly treated with surgery, radiation, chemo, or a combination of those treatments
"...And through all of that only one life would be saved."
"When asked to imagine what message Dr. Welch would like to see in a mammogram campaign, he replied by saying: "Mammography has both benefits and harms...that's why it's a personal decision. Screening mammography may help you avoid a cancer death or may lead you to be treated for cancer unnecessarily. But both are rare; most often it will do neither."
"I appreciate Dr. Welch's balanced, rational approach. But unfortunately it doesn't allow for the compression contradiction."
"In medical school, students are instructed to examine breasts gently because excessive pressure may cause existing cancer to spread. And men, trust me on this one, the pressure between those two plates on a mammogram unit is excessive and then some!"
"This is the compression contradiction. And it's the very heart of what's wrong with mammography. It physically hurts, and while supposedly saving lives it may actually set in motion a life-threatening cancer. "
Would anyone like to add their (brief) comments on the subject?
Has anyone discovered alternatives?