Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mammography for breast cancer screening

Ok this is not an endorsement for or against screening mammograms. This is just some information that's important to consider before you decide if mammograms for screening is right for you.

Your risk factors may be high enough that mammography screening makes a lot of sense.

The decision should be based on a good understanding of the risks and benefits.

Here's a rough outline of those risks and benefits:

If 1000 women between the ages of 50-74 get mammograms yearly for 10 years

1 will have her life saved by mammography screening
between 2-10 will be diagnosed unnecessarily with breast cancer
between 10-15 will be diagnosed earlier but it won't affect the prognosis
100 to 500 will have at least one false positive test requiring more testing or biopsy
the british medical journal saying is a little differently
talks about false positives ; each mammography center has a "recall" rate. The % of mammograms that are followed by "let's repeat the Xray" results
Our local center in Yakima, Ohana has a recall rate. I don't know the % for sure, but i'm sure we could find out.
this talks about one of the books of required reading if you want to make informed decisions about cancer screening tests

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