New Mammography Guidelines – Mammography Can Be Risky

Mammography is a big business nowadays and is being touted as an answer to breast cancer prevention. In fact mammography does not prevent it but only detects it. Countless advertisements and physicians are advising women to undergo this procedure. But real value of this procedure is far from clear. Many women were diagnosed with breast cancer that was not detected by mammography and opposite is equally true. There is a high risk of false positive and false negative findings with this procedure. The entire procedure of mammography can be unpleasant and the procedure by itself involves radiation which is potentially harmful. Radiation is a risk factor and it can be logically assumed that mammography triggers breast cancer.

Various studies have estimated that women who received many diagnostic X rays and radiations had as much as 70% higher chance of developing cancer of the breast as compared to general population. Although the intensity of radiation in modern X ray machines is much lower the inherent risks are very much there.

Radiation is a risk factor for the cancer of the breast. Mammogram usage involves forcefully squashing the breast and shooting radiation through it. Proponents of this procedure claim that mammography detects breast cancer tumors one year earlier than simple palpation such as self breast examination. For cancer cells to become large enough to be detected by palpation the cancer must have been growing for at least 10 years. If mammogram detects it then the cancer must have been growing for at least nine years. This can hardly be termed as early detection. It is of no use detecting it after 9 years. May be if it was detected much earlier the response to the treatment would be much better and the breast cancer treatment by itself would not be so traumatic. There is no real advantage but only risks with this procedure. Physicians, government and FDA should intervene and investigate the functioning of this mammography industry and the misleading advertisements.