Wednesday, 12 February 2014

That Routinue Mammogram Could Be Not What the Doctor Needed to Order

Eight years ago, just about now, I got a call telling me that a routinue mammorgram had showed suspicious tissue, and it looked like I had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS.)  By the end of the summer, I'd been biopsied, excised and radiated, and was telling people how important mammograms were.

Since then I've become more skeptical,  Even then it was clear that DCIS the majority of time doesn't  into real cancer, and there was a big question whether tamoxifen should be given as a follow up.  One study reported in The Lancet of North American women said yes, but another, also in The Lancet, of women in Australia, New Zealand and the UK counseled against giving the drug to post-menopausal women because now benefit was found. (Had a fight with my surgeon about that, and changed doctors, actually.)

Now it looks like the tool used to find my DCIS is really unnecessary.  A new, very large Canadian study shows no benefit to mammography. It "found that the death rates from breast cancer and from all causes were the same in women who got mammograms and those who did not. And the screening had harms: One in five cancers found with mammography and treated was not a threat to the woman’s health and did not need treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery or radiation."

Interestingly, Enbridge, the questionable pipeline and fossil fuel group, is sponsoring a benefit concert for cancer research in Montreal Feb. 28.  Who's going to really benefit?


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