The trend toward digital mammograms was given a mixed report card in the study Benefits, Harms, and Costs for Breast Cancer Screening After U.S. Implementation of Digital Mammography e-published on May 28 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
For the three million women in the United States who’ve survived breast cancer, difficult health care choices come with the territory. But even after successful treatment, an important question lingers: Should they consider magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to mammography for ongoing breast cancer screening, or “surveillance”?
A large national study in JAMA Internal Medicine has found that the rate of women receiving breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) nearly tripled from 2005 to 2009: from four to 11 exams per 1,000 women.
One year after GHRI Research Associate Evette Ludman, PhD, coached nurse navigators to help cancer patients with difficult treatment decisions, she discovered the work’s value in a very personal way.
Screening for breast cancer every two years appears just as beneficial as yearly mammograms for women age 50–74, with significantly fewer “false positives”—even for women whose breasts were dense or who used hormone therapy for menopause.
Among older women, getting a mammogram every two years was just as beneficial as getting a mammogram annually, and led to significantly fewer false-positive results, according to a Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) study including patients and researchers from Group Health. The national study of more than 140,000 women between ages 66 and 89 is in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Serious questions remain about how best to balance screening’s benefits with its potential harms, including false-positive test results, overdiagnosis leading to invasive treatment for non-life-threatening conditions, and repeated exposure to radiation.
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