A well-written and balanced article on mammography from USA Today may help move the conversation about this screening test away from hype and a bit closer to reality. The title – “Mammogram is ‘terribly imperfect’, though recommended.”
For women in their 40s, mammograms reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by about 15%… But mammograms miss some cancers and raise false alarms about others, causing women to go through unnecessary follow-up tests… “We’re saying, ‘Mammography is a terribly imperfect test, but we’re recommending women get it,'” Brawley says. “The task force was saying, ‘Mammography is a terribly imperfect test, and women have to make a decision about whether to get it in their 40s.'”
I encourage all women to read and share this article.
What I love about the article is how clearly written, non-inflammatory and concise it is, proving that the mainstream media can get it right when it comes to health information. The article also includes a fabulous summary graph that is simple to interpret and very clearly conveys just what it is mammograms can and cannot do when it comes to preventing deaths from breast cancer.
More reading on mammograms from TBTAM and elsewhere
- The New Mammogram Guidelines – What you need to know.
- Another well-done story, by CNN, on the mammogram controversy
- Mammograms – what women want. But is it for the right reasons?
- ACOG’s Mammogram recommendations – not what you’d think
- Preventing Breast Cancer Deaths – How much credit does mammography get?
- USPSTF breast cancer screening recommendations
- American Cancer Society response to the USPSTF Mammogram Guidelines
- American College of Radiology response to the USPSTF guidelines
- The Secret History of Mammography – by Devra Davis, pHd at Huff Post.
- Mammogram Math at the NY Times – Understanding the numbers
- The Numbers Guy at the WSJ looks at the data.
- USA Today looks at breast cancer mortality numbers in women ages 40-49
- The Mammogram Post-Mortem by Dr Val – an insightful analysis of the media meltdown
- NPR, Dr Isis and Orac on the USPSTF Guidelines and African American Women