The mammogram debate stirs anew

Two years ago this month, a government working group issued new guidelines for women: Get a regular mammogram starting at age 50. It also said mammograms for women in their 40s do not outweigh the risks involved, specifically unnecessarily biopsies.

Today in Chicago, researchers will present their study which says women in their 40s should be getting annual mammograms. That should clear things up.

The findings suggest annual mammograms are beneficial for all women in their 40s, said study researcher Dr. Stamatia Destounis, a radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, LLC, in Rochester, N.Y.

“We’re identifying a considerable number of breast cancers in that age group,” said study researcher Dr. Stamatia Destounis, a radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care in Rochester, N.Y.

“To do screening early is always better than not,” another researcher told LiveScience.com, although she acknowledges there’s no evidence that mammograms prolong women’s lives.

  • Olivia

    Get a mamogram

    that we cannot afford

    so that we can live longer

    in a world we cannot afford to live in.

    huh.

  • brian

    “To do screening early is always better than not”

    Then why not 30, or 20, or 10?

  • PpFt

    I applaud the USPSTF’s daring to question the “do everything, NOW!” attitude that has come to characterize U.S. healthcare delivery (for those who can afford it anyway).

    To put it baldly, oncologists will continue to recommend more screening and more drugs, because that is what drives profit.

    What I find interesting with regards to U.S. guidelines in general is that there is very little mention of cost-benefit: everyone seems to try to avoid it like the plague lest they be branded “socialist” and so there is a lot of sentimental baggage when it comes to healthcare discussions. I’d think cost-benefit (how to get the most out of every dollar you have) is a reasonable topic if healthcare dollars (whether federal or individual) don’t come from a bottomless pot.

    There was plenty of leeway in the USPSTF mammography recommendations (including “women should discuss with their physicians whether mammography would be of benefit to them”).

    The fact is, despite these recommendations (and the equally controversial PSA screening ones), those who have access to/can afford screening/treatment will continue to get them, and those who don’t have access will not get detected till it’s “too late”.

  • Tyler

    Aren’t mammograms an extremely painful experience? How does that figure into this?

  • vjacobsen

    So, clearly the researchers had bias going in. Never a good thing.

  • Olivia

    “Aren’t mammograms an extremely painful experience? How does that figure into this?

    Posted by Tyler | November 29, 2011 1:39 PM ”

    They smash your breasts between two plates and take an x-ray of them. This can cause internal bruising and bleeding coupled with the x-ray can create a cancer. Great technique.