In poll, 61% of doctors say mammograms should be less frequent

“In poll, 61% of doctors say mammograms should be less frequent” By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Los Angeles Times.

It’s been three years since the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force launched the mammography wars with its recommendation that most women get fewer of the breast cancer screening exams — one every other year between the ages of 50 and 74. Younger women could get tested if they wanted to. The recommendations were made after researchers tested 20 screening strategies using six different models of how breast cancer grows and spreads. Task force members emphasized that routine mammograms catch three kinds of cancers: those that are too aggressive to be cured, those that could become deadly but are caught early enough to be treated, and those that would never cause any harm. Only women with cancers in the second category benefit from screening exams; meanwhile, widespread annual testing brings real harm in the form of false-positive test results and invasive, unnecessary treatment.

The New England Journal of Medicine published three viewpoints about mammograms in November 2012. This week, the journal published the results of an online poll to see which argument doctors found most persuasive. “There is widespread agreement that mammography is a flawed screening instrument, because it detects lesions that are not cancer and can miss malignant lesions.”

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