Are Pricey Computer-Aided Mammograms Worth It?

“Are Pricey Computer-Aided Mammograms Worth It?” By Christine Norton and Karen Sepucha, Health News Review).

Health News Review evaluates health reporting on medical interventions from the top ten circulating newspapers in the United States. The evaluation is based on established criteria related to costs of the intervention, quantification of benefits and harms, critical evaluation of the body of evidence, the extent to which the story exaggerates a condition, use of independent sources, discussion of existing alternatives, availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure, explanation of the novelty of the approach, and whether the story relied solely on a press release.

Health News Review evaluated an April 15, 2013 story by HealthDay, “Are Pricey Computer-Aided Mammograms Worth It? Early breast cancer found more often in large study, but not more cases of invasive disease.” The story summarizes the results of a study of 409,000 mammograms done with computer-aided detection (CAD) and without CAD among women aged 67-89. The findings are important because CAD is used with 75 percent of mammography readings. Health News Review points out that the headline and content of the story focused on the fact that CAD may not provide overall value. Use of CAD did not improve the rate of detection of invasive breast cancer, but did lead to more false positives, more diagnostic imaging and biopsies, and the potential for over-diagnosis and over-treatment increased due to a higher detection rate for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a non-invasive (stage zero) type of breast cancer. Health News Review found the story to be satisfactory in 8 out of 10 criteria. Pretty good. Find out why!

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Related: Health News Review is featured in the Learn More section of the Breast Cancer Consortium’s Tools for Action page.

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