Mammogram Research

Questions Surround Mammograms

There is a lot of news surrounding the use of mammograms for early detection of breast cancer and whether they help save lives. Many studies on this subject have been showing that mammograms have not lowered the rate of cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

The incidence of metastatic breast cancer that spreads to other areas of the body has remained almost unchanged since 1975. Data from the National Cancer Institute shows that the rate of new cases of this type has held steady at 20 per 100,000 women.

The idea behind screening for cancer is that you are able to catch tumors when they are smaller, and relatively easier to treat with positive outcomes. If this holds true then we should see fewer cancers after they have already spread. In the case of early detection for prostate cancer, this is true.

What may be happening: 

  • Perhaps mammograms are not good enough to detect metastatic cancer before it spreads.
  • By the time cancer can be detected, it has already become a systemic disease.

More studies and research need to be done to be sure screening programs are helpful, and are not exposing patients to unneeded and ineffective tests.

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Remember that this information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.



LA Times “Study questions mammograms” – Karen Kaplan