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.