Mammograms

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The Breast Cancer Foundation That Ignores Science

"Mammograms save lives," read the headline from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. My heart sank. Not only is this headline unlikely to be true, it's possibly dangerous. Recent research is adding up to what I would call a wholesale re-questioning of the need for mammography based on the fact that the overall benefits seem to be vanishingly small and the harms -- including unnecessary cancer scares, biopsies and surgeries -- considerable.
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The Dangers of Over Diagnosis

Unfortunately, our ability now to test for and find insignificant abnormalities in people often leads to medical interventions that offer little or no benefit but still carry all the potential harms. Harm as a consequence of necessary treatment can be accepted, but exposing healthy people to harm from treatment that they should not have had in the first place is unacceptable.
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The Ugly Truth About Mammograms

When first introduced four decades ago, breast cancer screening with mammography was widely regarded as an important tool in the fight against this terrible disease. It is now clear that the benefits of screening mammography have been greatly exaggerated and the serious adverse effects all but ignored in the enthusiasm to support breast screening programs. It's time for these programs to be reconsidered. This is a very unpleasant message for modern developed societies where three generations of women have been led to believe that regular mammograms will save their lives and where an enormous related industry has been built up, but it is time to face the facts.
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Mammograms May Give False Positives, But I Still Want Them

So annual mammography does not cut breast cancer deaths. This, according to a 25-year Canadian study published this week. So the study makes me wonder: Do you still believe in mammography? The fact that the majority of breast cancers are detectable by mammography is good enough for me. Call me old-fashioned, but let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.