The authors concluded that annual mammography in women 40-59 years of age does not reduce mortality from breast cancer beyond that of physical exam or usual when adjuvant therapy for breast cancer is freely available. 

I can just imagine what my patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer via screening mammography must be thinking.  “What, do you mean I could have not mammograms and been just as well off as if I didn’t?”  I, for one, am not quite ready to embrace that idea.

1.  This study has been criticized in previous years for its randomization process and their radiology techniques.

2.  The above aside, the authors suggest that as long as you are diagnosed and receive additional treatment, (likely chemotherapy), you can do just as well as if you had screening.

This works in direct contradiction to the thinking that early detection provides the best opportunity for surgical options and adjuvant treatments.

3.  These findings are in direct contradiction to the Swedish 2 County Trial – which has 29 years of follow up.  The 2 County trial reported a 31% reduction in mortality associated with screening – although the screening was done every 2 to 2.5 years – not annually.

I could probably talk about this for an hour, but I will close with this – screening mammography is one of, if not the easiest, safest and economical ways to save lives, breasts and quality of life.  Sure, there are some cancers that will not end life if not diagnosed, but right now, we don’t know which they are – keep screening, please!!

-Dr. Terre McGlothin