Should Women in Their 40s Have Mammograms?; September 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Maranto; 1 Page(s)
For at least four years now, breast cancer specialists have been heatedly arguing among themselves about whether women in their forties benefit from having routine mammograms. In 1993 the National Cancer Institute sparked the debate by proclaiming that women in this age group need not undergo such screening--a reversal of the NCI¿s previous position and the opposite of the American Cancer Society and of the American Medical Association recommendations.
Physicians, radiologists, statisticians and public health officials have made claims and counterclaims and--with sometimes startling emotion--have accused one another of misreading or misrepresenting data, of performing faulty analyses and of perpetuating myths that have dire consequences for women. Some specialists, as well as cancer societies, women¿s health advocates and manufacturers of mammography machines, have argued that mass screening saves lives; others on the clinical front lines and in policysetting roles have contended that evidence from a number of randomized controlled trials does not support such a claim. Instead, they say, the data reveal that younger women whose breasts are scanned by x-rays die at the same rate as those whose breasts are manually examined by a physician on a regular basis.