Surgeons admit that mammography is outdated and harmful to women

The controversial practice of crushing a woman’s breasts between two metal plates to scan for tumors is now under fire from a host of doctors wielding studies that mammography, the technical term for such a practice, does more harm than good in scanning for cancerous breast tumors.

The study, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, said mammography causes more harm than good because women tend to be misdiagnosed and mistreated – or overtreated – for terminal breast cancer. Therefore, the study concluded that mammography is an “outdated” tool of breast cancer diagnosis and should belong to the history books of failed medical treatments for women.

The study included a review of 8 scientific trials evaluating this outdated mammography procedure to see if it was either safe or effective. Overall, the researchers looked at data on more than 600,000 women aging between 39 and 74 years old who went through the procedure as part of a routine examination. The study’s researchers found many of the women were misdiagnosed; others were subsequently mistreated with chemotherapy resulting in their rapid death.

The study’s authors concluded that mammography was neither safe nor effective for women. The authors also said: “If we assume that screening reduces breast cancer mortality by 15% and that overdiagnosis and overtreatment is at 30%, it means that for every 2000 women invited for screening throughout 10 years, one will avoid dying of breast cancer and 10 healthy women who would not have been diagnosed if not for the screening, will be treated unnecessarily.”

More studies prove mammography does more harm than good
After the previous review study was published, another review was published a year after in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). A team of top medical experts that included a pharmacologist, an oncologic surgeon, a clinical epidemiologist, a medical ethicist, a nurse scientist, a health economist, and a lawyer together concluded that the medical industry’s claims about the benefits of mammography are completely rubbish!

This team found that for every 1,000 women screened for breast cancer in the U.S. over a 10-year annual screening period, starting from age 50, one breast cancer death would be prevented but a scary 490 to 670 women would register a false positive, while 70-100 women would undergo an unnecessary biopsy.

Moreover, between 3 and 14 of these women would be over-diagnosed for a non-malignant form of cancer that never would have been clinically obvious.
This study from Switzerland confirms the findings of another one out of Canada called the 2014 Canadian National Breast Screening Study.
The Canadian study also corroborated the Swiss study, saying that mammography screenings do not reduce mortality rates of breast cancer any better than a simple physical examination. It was declared unnecessary and sometimes, physically harmful to the woman. U.S. data covering a period of almost 40 years also showed that more women are over- or misdiagnosed with breast cancer using mammograms than successfully diagnosing breast cancer. With this poor track record, I do recommend that we should find not just a better and more accurate way of diagnosing breast cancer but also one less harmful and fewer side effects (like radiation) during the diagnosis.

How about you – do you have ideas on a better and harmless way of diagnosing breast cancer? Share
your ideas in the comment section below!

 

Image by National Cancer InstituteCC BY-SA 3.0