Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Question For My Female Readers

Would you rather get a false positive result from a mammogram, or a missed positive result from the mammogram you never got in the first place?

WaPo: Breast exam guidelines now call for less testing

Women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year, an influential federal task force has concluded, challenging the use of one of the most common medical tests.

In its first reevaluation of breast cancer screening since 2002, the independent government-appointed panel recommended the changes, citing evidence that the potential harm to women having annual exams beginning at age 40 outweighs the benefit.


Several patient advocacy groups and many breast cancer experts welcomed the new guidelines, saying they represent a growing recognition that more testing, exams and treatment are not always beneficial and, in fact, can harm patients. Mammograms produce false-positive results in about 10 percent of cases, causing anxiety and often prompting women to undergo unnecessary follow-up tests, sometimes-disfiguring biopsies and unneeded treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Unnecessary follow-up tests???

"Mrs. Johnson, your mammogram is showing us something that could be a cancerous growth in your left breast. We'd like to run some more tests to be sure."

"Aw, do you have to? That seems so darn unnecessary. Can't we just start chemo instead?"

Alternate Post Title: Rationing? What rationing?