Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Benefits of mammogram oversold?

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Apr• 01•14

That is what one new study finds. The Boston Globe reports that:

Doctors may have oversold the benefits of mammography and underplayed its risks, which has left many women unable to make an informed decision about whether or not to have regular breast cancer screenings beginning at age 40. That troubling finding is based on the latest review of research conducted by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers, which concluded that mammograms decrease a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer by a modest 19 percent.

Women in their 40s had just a 15 percent reduction in their breast cancer death risk compared to a 32 percent reduction for older women in their 60s who are far more likely to get breast cancer than younger women, according to the study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. None of the trials could determine whether mammograms reduced a woman’s risk of dying from any cause:

Thus, it appears that mammograms are beneficial on net, particularly for older or high risk women. However, they may not be the silver bullet some may have once thought them to be.

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