Breast practices: The mammogram dilemma

“Breast practices: The mammogram dilemma.” By H. Gilbert Welch, The Los Angeles Times

There is growing evidence that screening mammograms aren’t all they’ve been cracked up to be. This month it was “More mammograms, more problems” — a study showing that screening every year (instead of every other) didn’t produce any benefit but did produce twice as many false alarms and twice as many biopsies. A few weeks earlier, another study (which I coauthored) suggested that roughly one-third of breast cancers diagnosed under current screening guidelines would never cause problems and didn’t actually need to be diagnosed.

There’s no question that diagnostic mammograms should be performed on women who have discovered a lump. But a growing number of primary-care physicians, surgeons, epidemiologists and women affected by the process have begun to question the value of telling all women they need to be checked regularly with screening mammograms.

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