Lives Saved is Greater than Over-Diagnosis.

 Getting mammograms can be a scary and overwhelming thing especially with all the talk about over-diagnosis.  Over-diagnosis is found during screenings where semi-symptoms are discovered that never would have surfaced during the woman’s lifetime.  Some say that 1-in-4 cases that cause alarm end up being no big deal.  After hearing that information, women tend to steer away from mammograms, worrying less about their breast health and forgetting about that 3-4 that found cancer and were able to fight it.

A new study conducted by Steven Duffy, a professor of cancer screening at Queen Mary, University of London, indicates that getting a mammogram every two years outweighs any potential radiation dangers of mammograms.  This is especially true for women between the ages of 50 and 70.  This study was published in the September 13th issue of The Journal of Medical Screening.

“Breast screening in ages 50-69 confers to a large reduction in risk of dying of breast cancer,” says Stephen Duffy.  He went on to say that, “The benefit in terms of lives saved is considerably greater than the harm in terms or over-diagnosis.”  He found that out of every 1,000 women screened on a regular biannual basis, 9 lives were saved.

Although Duffy and his team were focused on the upsides of mammograms, they did also look at the downsides.  They did find that for every 1,000 women 4 were over-diagnosed.  The details of the over-diagnosis were that 170 women would have had one recall with a noninvasive test that showed up negative.  Also, 30 of them would have undergone an invasive procedure that turned up negative.

Simply put the two numbers that you have to look at are 4 women were over-diagnosed and 9 lives were saved, per every 1,000 women.  That was the big statistic that Duffy was able to find out of his research and he can finally say that the lives that are saved is greater than the women that were over-diagnosed.

Since, this was published more countries are examining the study and going more in depth.  One of the things they are focusing on what the best intervals of time to get mammograms done are, because countries’ opinions do vary.  For example, in Europe they say between the ages of 50-70 women should go every two years.  In America they say to start mammograms at age 40 and women should go every year.

So, the short story is all the worry about over-diagnosis should never scare women away from getting these mammograms done.  This study and Duffy’s findings prove that over-diagnosis should not be women’s primary concern.  Early detection is the best way to ensure breast cancer survival and worry can be inconvenient, but its better to be inconvenienced with an annual mammogram than having to battle a later stage of breast cancer!

For more information on Dr. Steven Duffy’s study go here.