Huge study questions value of mammography (Part 2)

A study questioning the value of mammography continues to generate extensive coverage. Much of the coverage focuses on the debate in the medical world surrounding the supposed benefits of mammography, which has led to confusion among patients.

ABC World News reported, “a major new study, one of the biggest ever, is raising a provocative question. Should women get mammograms at all?”

The CBS Evening News reported that “there is a lot of confusion and frustration about this report.” CBS’ Dr. Jon Lapook said, “In recent years, controversy over the value of mammograms has led to confusion among both patients and physicians.”

NBC Nightly News reported that the “study that is reigniting the debate over the value of mammograms where it’s often so complicated to know who or what to believe.” The findings are “causing further confusion and conversation over what women are supposed to do.”

The AP reports that researchers followed “nearly 90,000 women who had annual breast exams by a nurse to check for lumps plus a mammogram, or the nurse’s breast exam alone.” Researchers found that “after more than two decades, breast cancer death rates were similar in the two groups, suggesting little benefit from mammograms.” The study was published in the BMJ.

On its website, NBC News reports that the American College of Radiology “called the study ‘deeply flawed’ and said new and better treatments for breast cancer do save lives.”

On its website, CNN reports, “The technology used in the study was a ‘generation behind,’ says Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, who noted that the randomization between the study’s control and experimental groups was also flawed.”

Modern Healthcare reports, however, that “others warn too much screening can be a bad thing, and that this study offers important insight that can help protect patients from unnecessary harm.”

Dr. Virginia Moyer, chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, “says … the USPSTF will take” this study “into consideration as it revisits its guidelines over the next year and a half.”

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