Talk about an emotionally charged topic. I’ve certainly addressed this in recent posts, but I’m going to add further evidence supporting the idea that mammography has little effect on breast cancer outcomes.
This particular study found no evidence to suggest that mammography lowers breast cancer mortality. Read that again. Considering that, in this country mammography = “cancer prevention” we are really screwed.
How is this even possible? We are drilled again and again and again in this country that screening saves lives. PSA. Mammography. Colonoscopy. We rely so heavily on it that these procedures fall under the classification of “prevention.” Let’s get this straight–these procedures are in NO way, shape or form “prevention.” They are all early detection and do nothing to prevent the conversion of normal cells to cancerous cells.
So..back to mammography. A few things to consider so you can put everything in perspective. Many breast masses are originally identified via breast self exams. This remains the simplest way to detect many masses.
Next, based on research out of Denmark, about 22% of cancers found on mammography would’ve gone away on their own. This is all kinds of scary when you think about the 22% of women who had aggressive, life-changing radiation and chemo for a mass that would have resolved on its own. This also skews the “benefits” of mammography when 22% of the cases are going to get better no matter what you do.
Then throw in the stress and anxiety and decreased quality of life that goes along with a false positive mammography.
Of course, this is all in the context of the fact that mammography utilizes ionizing radiation and by itself will increase the risk of breast cancer. Compare this to thermography, which uses no radiation and can instantly differentiate cysts from tumors. Unfortunately, the money never went into thermography research to support its use.
Overall, the problem in Westernized medicine is that we use screening tools as prevention. Instead of educating the public about the well known ways to prevent breast cancer, we promote screenings. I’m going to get shot leaving the office on this one, but if we shifted all the money being used for initial screening mammography (as opposed to mammography following a lump detected on BSE) into an aggressive campaign to educate on refined carbs, exercise, soy intake, BPA from plastics and cruciferous vegetable intake, we would see far greater drops in cancer deaths (and incidence) than we currently see with mammography in the forefront.