Today, mammograms as a screening tool for breast cancer are an integral, deeply embedded component of the way in which we manage the health of adult women with a goal of early detection of breast cancer. To stop screening mammograms is unthinkable.
But we should certainly pay more attention to the age at which mammograms should be done and how frequently they are done. These parameters are critical because of the downsides of mammograms, which not only include the problem of identifying cancers of no clinical significance but also the so-called "false positive" where something suspicious on a mammogram leads to needless biopsies and even surgery.
There is still consensus that mammograms should commence at age 50 and end at age 75. If a person has no family history of breast cancer, has not used hormone replacement, does not smoke, has had children and has breastfed, a mammogram should be done every two to three years.
In Europe, every three years is frequently the norm.
Any woman who has a strong family history of breast cancer, particularly if the cancer occurred at a young age, should get an annual mammogram. And based on a careful discussion between doctor and patient, the first mammogram can be recommended at age 40.
The good news is that breast cancer treatments, even for cancers that have spread to lymph nodes, have a cure rate as high as 85 percent.
The key challenge with mammography at the moment is distinguishing between tiny cancers that will never cause a problem and those that will prove fatal without treatment. Until this differentiation can be made, we have no choice but to assume that all are potentially fatal and treat accordingly.
Dr. David Lipschitz is the author of the book "Breaking the Rules of Aging." To find out more about Dr. David Lipschitz and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. More information is available at: www.DrDavidHealth.com
(c)COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM
Outpatient ROBOTIC HYSTERECTOMY. Trust an experienced Robotic Surgeon.