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Scientists Admit Mammography Is Out Of Date And May Be Harmful For Some Women

Scientists Admit Mammography Is Out Of Date And May Be Harmful For Some Women

Breast cancer is the most common female cancer. One in nine women will declare it during her lifetime, a quarter of which will die less than ten years after being diagnosed. To offer patients better treatment and in the hope of increasing their chances of survival, the National Cancer Institute offers all women aged 50 to 75 years to have a mammogram free every two years. What risk? In recent months, many media have reported on studies calling into question the reliability of mammography such as the Express: "Mammography does not reduce the mortality rate of breast cancer" or the Canadian Journal: Mammograms could worsen risk of breast cancer in some women There are now alternatives to mammography, more reliable and less harmful.

What is mammography?

Mammography is a screening test for breast cancer. It consists of an X-ray and examines the tissues to identify any abnormalities. Every year, nearly 40,000 women go to the radiology cabinet for mammography, a practice that is being questioned by a growing number of specialists and is becoming increasingly controversial.

Mammography would be harmful and outdated
More and more scientists are of the opinion that mammography would not only be ineffective, but would be detrimental to women's health when over-diagnosed, as X-ray exposure could have a negative impact.

False diagnoses
Researchers at the Cochrane Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, have found, following a study published in 2013, that a significant number of women who pass the mammography examination are regularly victims of Mistakes in diagnosis that sometimes have disastrous consequences: perfectly healthy women who are diagnosed with cancer undergo heavy treatments every year, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy or the removal of a tumor that is in fact perfectly benign. Gøtzsche PC and Jørgensen KJ, authors of the study, conclude their work as follows:

"If we consider that screening reduces breast cancer mortality by 15% after 13 years of follow-up and that overdiagnosis and overtreatment equals 30%, it means that, for every 2,000 women invited to Screening over a 10-year period, one death from breast cancer will be avoided and 10 healthy women who would not have been diagnosed if they had not been screened will be treated unnecessarily. "

In addition, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that if mammography allows, for thousand women x-rayed, to avoid the death of a woman by breast cancer, a dozen of them is also diagnosed a a dangerous tumor that is actually benign, and nearly five hundred are victims of a false diagnosis of which a hundred among them undergo a surgical intervention.

Mammography seems, in light of the elements we have just stated, may present a real risk for healthy women.

Thousands of women are regularly victims of false diagnoses and if they do not undergo treatments that are far from innocuous and whose side effects are sometimes very heavy, they may nevertheless suffer from anxiety and psychological disorders, Believing they have an illness they do not have.

Doubtful efficiency
On the other hand, Canadian researchers who participated in the 2014 Canadian National Breast Screening Study concluded that the performance of mammography, in terms of avoided death rates, was no better than that of physical examinations performed by physicians.

A Norwegian study even showed that not only did mammography not lead to a lower number of deaths than a simple physical examination, but it did not allow diagnosis of more malignant tumors than in women who did not had no recourse. For the authors, "no significant difference was found in the cumulative incidence rates of breast cancer among women (...) screened and undetected. "

Alternatives to mammography exist

The incidence of breast cancer has only increased in the last 30 years in all countries of the world.

To detect it as early as possible, another test, thermography, is gaining popularity and may be more effective and safer than mammography.

Consisting of an image representing the temperature differences on the surface of the skin of patients, this infrared imaging can detect the presence of cancer cells, or even areas where they have the greatest risk of developing. The accuracy of diagnoses made using this tool would reach 80%, according to a study from the University of Loughborough.