Lately, mammograms have been under a lot of scrutiny and a new study only comes to confirm there are some good reasons behind that. The Associated Press writes about an independent British study that concluded mammograms save 1, but overtreat 3 women.
Although it is obvious that mammograms save lives, there’s a lot of criticism for overdiagnosing women and subjecting them to unnecessary cancer treatments. Statistics read that 12.4 percent of women born in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their life.
Mammograms remain the most conclusive test when it comes to breast cancer, however the question of how often should these screenings be undertaken has various answers. Some experts say mammograms should be taken early and often, whereas others say one at two to three years. In the meanwhile, studies put the screening procedure under scrutiny for saving 1 woman but overtreating 3 other.
In Britain, women aged 50 to 70 get mammograms every three years in the state program for breast cancer. According to a recent study, that program manages to save the life of 1,300 women each year, but on the other hand, there are about 4,000 women who get mammograms and cancer treatment for a harmless condition.
The study published in the Lancet journal also showed that in 20 years, 1 percent of 300,000 will receive unnecessary cancer treatment. That includes chemotherapy, surgery and or radiation for a cancer that is harmless. Side effects are not easy to live with and chemotherapy and radiation alone have side effects that include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, weight gain, lowered resistance to infections, bleeding and mouth soreness.
“It’s clear that screening saves lives” said chief executive Harpal Kumar with Cancer Research UK. “But some cancers will be treated that would have never caused any harm and unfortunately, we can’t yet tell which cancers are harmful and which are not” he added.
In the United States, experts with a governmental task force recommend women over 50 to take mammograms every two years. The American Cancer Society advises women to start taking mammograms at age 40 and every year from that point on.