Overdiagnosis of Breast Cancer
While cancer is a very frightening disease, a recent study found that it has been overdiagnosed with the advent of mammograms. Researchers noted “our estimate of overdiagnosed cancers attributable to mammography over the past 30 years involved more than 1 million women.”
This is shocking news given the trauma of breast cancer. Given the data, the authors question the current value of mammograms:
“Our study raises serious questions about the value of screening mammography. It clarifies that the benefit of mortality reduction is probably smaller, and the harm of overdiagnosis probably larger, than has been previously recognized. And although no one can say with certainty which women have cancers that are overdiagnosed, there is certainty about what happens to them: they undergo surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy for 5 years or more, chemotherapy, or (usually) a combination of these treatments for abnormalities that otherwise would not have caused illness.”
Given the seriousness of these findings, women would be prudent in seeking second opinions and even considering less aggressive forms of care in their response to positive findings.