Study ques­tions mam­mo­grams’ value in breast cancer screen­ing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION + WORLD -

A new study ques­tions the value of mam­mo­grams for breast cancer screen­ing. It con­cludes that a woman is more likely to be di­ag­nosed with a small tu­mor that is not des­tined to grow than she is to have a true prob­lem spot­ted early.

The work could fur­ther shift the bal­ance of whether screen­ing’s harms out­weigh its ben­e­fits. Screen­ing is only worth­while if it finds can­cers that would kill, and if treat­ing them early im­proves sur­vival ver­sus treat­ing when or if they ever cause symp­toms. Treat­ment has im­proved so much over the years that de­tect­ing cancer early has be­come less im­por­tant. Mam­mo­grams do catch some deadly can­cers and save lives. But they also find many early can­cers that are not des­tined to grow or spread and be­come a health threat. There is no good way to tell which ones will, so many women get treat­ments they don’t re­ally need. It’s a twin prob­lem: over­diag­no­sis and overtreat­ment.

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