Los Angeles Times

The other side on mammograms


Re“When screening is bad for your health,” Opinion, July19

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch is misinforme­d about the benefits of screening mammograph­y. The truth is, mammograph­y saves lives. In fact, the most lives are saved when women are screened every year beginning at age 40. There has been a 35% decrease in deaths in women who have been screened in the U.S. since the 1990s.

Yes, mammograph­y is not perfect. However, womenare strong. We want to survive despite moments of anxiety.

Three-D mammograph­y, which Welch implies has questionab­le benefits, actually decreases false positives associated with mammograph­y while simultaneo­usly increasing cancer detection. This in turn decreases costs to the healthcare system.

The concern regarding overdiagno­sis is real. I agree itwould be very nice to knowwhich cancers are problemati­c and which ones can be dismissed. However, estimates are far lower than Welch reports.

It doesn’t make sense to stop looking for cancers altogether and leave it up to luck as to whether a tumor causes death.

Sarah M. Friedewald, MD

Chicago The writer is division chief of the Lynn Sage Comprehens­ive Breast Center at Northweste­rn Memorial Hospital.

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