Many women don’t know all this, since public health and breast cancer awareness campaigns emphasize early detection over all the subtleties.
So women continue to support a mammography economy that promises them a false sense of security.
Relatedly, many studies, including a 2012 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that women who had mammography screening were just as likely to die as women who didn’t have mammograms.
“In other words, mammograms increased diagnoses and surgeries, but didn’t save lives,” Dr David H Newman wrote in the New York Times.
Still, millions of women dutifully endure the squeezing and the anxiety every year. We do it because we’ve been assured that it detects breast cancer early, which it does, though with a lot of caveats, like not being able to distinguish between early-stage cancers that are ultimately deadly and those that won’t grow, leading to overdiagnosis and treatment – more needless pain for more women.
They would have looked more closely at the data – the high rates of false-positives that require women to get a second mammogram and then wait for those results while worrying, do I have cancer or don’t I? This has happened to me twice.
Maybe a technology that effectively hasn’t changed since the 1960’s doesn’t give the best results.
I’m thrilled that a researcher decided to look into this aspect of mammograms, and I hope his findings lead to gentler mammograms in the future.
But I have to ask: no one thought of this before?
Even Dustler acknowledges that researchers have shown little interest in the relationship between pressure, pain and image quality in this widespread screening tool.
Still, why did it take so long? If it were men having this medieval procedure annually, the medical profession would have taken the pain it causes far more seriously.
data from 20 to 150 women to measure how pressure is distributed on the breast during mammograms. He found that when the compression was reduced by half, it had little effect on how the pressure was dispersed over the central areas of the breast, which Dustler says are the most important diagnostically.
now new research from Lund University in Sweden reveals that all that squeezing and pain women go through is probably unnecessary, as the images that result don’t inevitably lead to a better diagnosis.
Like most women, I dread going for my mammogram. Just the thought of having my breasts pinned between two hard plates, one hand gripping a bar overhead while a technician tries to shove them into position, is enough to make me sweat. Talk about painful.
I had posted about unnecessarily painful mammograms previously: Mammograms: Technology and Pain
Of course, there is a clear gender bias in this technology. If this were a check for testicular cancer they would have found a way to make it less painful long ago. It saddens and disillusions me that no one ever considered the woman’s pain as important enough to minimize it.
At almost 60, I have never had a mammogram.
First, because I always believed they would find benign growths that would never become dangerous and second, because they used such a barbaric and primitive mechanism. I felt it was humiliating and unnecessary.
After all these years, it turns out that medical science is coming around to my view.