Which side should you believe? Organizations, supposedly the experts, contradict one another regarding a woman’s age, the efficacy, frequency and value of mammography.
Most consumers rely on the American Cancer Society for direction regarding cancerand screening, however, over the past few years it has published conflicting information.
Practicing oncologist Dr. Otis Webb Brawley, is chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society made some very interesting comments about mammography, “Truth be told, it cannot avert all or even most breast cancer deaths.” Is this strange from a spokesman whose organization that has strongly promoted mammograms for many years?
Mainstream outlets and most medical complexes across America gloss over this truth. When discussion about re-thinking the use of mammography surfaces, women respond hysterically as accusations fly about taking away their right to medical care.
Dr. Brawley is on to something and dares to comment further. Not only does mammography lead to a false sense of security, but there are several risk factors:
Dr. Brawley further says that the public views mammography as a better technology than it actually is. It is important to carefully weigh the risk-benefit ratio for a specific woman before advising use of the test. Why is this not headline news?
There are “alternative” screening methods more effective and safer. I’ve written extensively on this topic and my message remains the same; ultrasound is a great alternative because it is widely available, painless, and can detect dense breast tumors better than mammography. Additionally, there is no radiation or breast compression. The downside is that it cannot confirm tumor malignancy.
That, however, has changed due to a relatively new technique called elastography which detects tumor flexibility. Benign tumors are soft and flexible; malignant tumors are more rigid.
So why don’t we hear more about the use of this dual approach/technique? It’s simple…follow the dollar.
Mammography and breast cancer is big business. More than 400,000 women die from breast cancer globally each year. About 75 percent of breast cancers are estrogen-receptor positive, meaning they are fed by estrogen. How long have we been running for a cure? And over the years, radiologists invested millions in upgrading their machinery to digital mammography. This is not a bad upgrade, but it does nothing to decrease radiation exposure or compression. It does however, enhance imaging and accuracy particularly for women who have dense breasts according to an abstract in the New England Journal of Medicine, 2005.
Even though there are better and safer alternatives, they are useless unless we get this information out to woman across the nation.
Start learning about your options; this information is a start. Take charge! Don’t believe those who may not have your best interests at heart.
“Analysis of two Annals papers on benefits of mammography in younger
women” Gary Schwitzer, Health News Review, 4/30/12, healthnewsreview.org
“Ultrasound Elastography Developments Lead to Increased Sensitivity of
Malignant Nodes” Diagnostic Imaging, 3/4/11, diagnosticimaging.com
“Elastography Reduces Unnecessary Breast Biopsies” Science Daily, 12/1/09, sciencedaily.com
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Edited by Thomas Cline, MBA and MAP, President of the International Association of Ethics Trainers and Sandra Cline, Editor in Chief of INTEGRITY TALK, the official publication of the International Association of Ethics Trainers. Visit: http://ethicstrainers.com
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