Many women - and their doctors - are taking issue with a recent study that suggests mammography is no better than annual clinical breast exams in reducing deaths from breast cancer.
This particular study, conducted in Canada, involved women who had mammograms between 1980 and 1985, using older film-based mammography, the only technology available at the time. Digital mammography has been the gold standard for breast cancer screening for many years now because it provides better, more reliable results than film.
The doubters are not alone. The major professional organizations - the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Radiology - recently reconfirmed their position calling for regular mammography screening for women beginning at the age of 40. These groups use experts in their field to make decisions based on the entire body of scientific data available to them, relying on rigorous, evidence-based findings.
Doctors Still Recommend Annual Mammograms
What's more, dozens of studies have shown the importance of annual mammograms and the effectiveness of digital mammography. New technology, such as 3D mammograms, improves on this even more. 3D mammography detects breast cancers even before they can be seen using digital mammography. Since the chance for a cure is nearly 100 percent if breast cancer is detected before it spreads, 3D mammograms can be a very effective tool.
How it Works
As far as the patient is concerned, getting a 3D mammogram is pretty much the same as getting a traditional one. The difference is in how the images are captured and displayed to give doctors more accurate information. The equipment is used to produce a 3D view of the breast. Fine details are more clearly visible than on conventional mammograms, making it easier for doctors to spot abnormalities.
Older technologies like film mammograms led to more false positives than newer technologies like 3D mammograms. False positives can cause anxiety and even unnecessary medical procedures for some women. An important advantage of 3D mammography is its much greater accuracy, so doctors can more easily tell normal tissue from cancerous, can identify cancers that might be missed using film or even digital mammography, and reduce the need for callbacks to rule out the presence of disease in healthy women.
Your best source of information about whether you should have a mammogram, and if so what kind, is your doctor. To learn more about 3D mammography, go to www.3DMammography.com.