Mammograms seem to be the hot topic of the week. And for good reason. Mammograms are the most effective way to detect breast cancer. In the US alone 180,510 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year. And 40,910 people are predicted to die from breast cancer. 99% of Americans affected by breast cancer are women.
Yesterday I told you that the American College of Physicians released a new guide on mammogram screening. This guide showed that a mammogram for women between the ages of 40 – 49 is may not be necessary. The woman’s current risk level should be looked at individually with her doctor — because the risks may not out weight the benefits.
Well today I have even more news about the risks of mammograms. A recently published study in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that computer-aided mammograms may be the cause of unnecessary biopsies. Nor do they raise the chance of finding a tumor. The study looked at over 429,000 mammograms, from 43 different medical centers in three states. Researchers concluded that out of 1,000, 98 women were wrongly told they were cancer-free when their mammogram was read by a person. While 128 out of 1,000 were wrongly diagnosed when a computer read their mammogram.
That’s an extra 30 wrong diagnoses when a computer is involved. In law suits against radiologists, missed tumors were the main issue. And approx. 24 million mammogram screenings are done in the US each year. So what does that mean for you? When scheduling your next mammogram, ask your medical center if you can have a human-read screening. If not, consider looking for a new facility where computers are not used.
In addition to your mammograms, you should do a self- exam every month. And your doctor should also check when you’re in for your annual physical.