Mammography in Controversy

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: General Health, Women's Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Much thanks and appreciation needs to be given to the wide variety of breast cancer organizations that have succeeded in increasing public awareness about the need for early detection of breast cancer through regular self-breast exams and screening. However, most continue to recommend that women age 40 and older receive annual mammograms, despite the continued controversy surrounding mammogram safety and effectiveness.
 
In November 2009, the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) released recommendations about breast cancer screening based on impartial reviews of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mammography. While USPSTF noted the existence of convincing evidence that mammography screening reduces breast cancer mortality, it found that the net benefit of such screening is much smaller for women ages 40 to 49 than for women ages 60 to 69.

Reduction of net benefit in 40- to 49-year-old women is due to harms associated with regular mammography screening, including “psychological harms, unnecessary imaging tests and biopsies in women without cancer, and inconvenience due to false-positive screening results."
USPSTF also noted radiation exposure as a consideration.

And, if you have been following Dr Sinatra’s reports on the dangers of various forms of radiation, you know that he is concerned that we are all overexposed.
 
Whether or not to get an annual mammogram is an individual decision for women, who can empower themselves by learning as much as possible about mammogram screening from a variety of sources. The National Cancer Institute has made a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool available online, which may be of use in making decisions involving mammograms.

If you decide against mammography, there are some additional techniques for early detection, including:

  • self- and physician-conducted breast exams,
  • ultrasound,
  • digital mammography and MRI, and
  • thermography.


Dr. Sinatra has addressed the benefits of thermography in newsletters, e-letters, and blogs, and I have had the simple test done myself. A form of infrared imaging used to detect heat, thermography can indicate the presence of inflammation, which often is present in pre-cancerous and cancerous cells. It can also be very useful in early detection of any breast abnormalities.

You can have thermography done of your breasts or your entire body, and the feedback I received really impressed me. Thermography picked up a couple of old skeletal injuries that are obviously still somewhat inflamed.

I strongly suggest you look into thermography yourself. It may be a great alternative for you too. And I'd like to thank Dr. Sinatra and my daughter Marchann, the editor for Dr. Sinatra's heartmdinstitute.com Web site, for her help with the breast cancer blogs!

For more information on women’s health issues, visit Dr. Sinatra’s Web site.

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