There is no denial that the best way to combat cancer is early detection, which duly necessitates regular screenings. But, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health beg to differ as they believe that routine mammography is apparently resulting in overdiagnosis of breast cancer.
Cases which would have otherwise been harmless are subjected to futile treatment adding to the mental stress. Basically, screenings do not help professionals differentiate between potentially less aggressive and metastatic cases.
Lead author Mette Kalager, a visiting scientist at HSPH and a researcher at the Telemark Hospital in Norway, cited, “Mammography might not be appropriate for use in breast cancer screening because it cannot distinguish between progressive and non-progressive cancer. Radiologists have been trained to find even the smallest of tumors in a bid to detect as many cancers as possible to be able to cure breast cancer.”
This study brings forth the benefits as well as qualms surrounding mammography trials. Mental agony and severe therapeutic alternatives like hormones or chemotherapy are some of the possible harms of screenings. This is especially true for women undergoing these treatment procedures with a disease that would have not led to any symptoms at all.
A study constituting approximately 39,888 women was conducted. As per the observations, about 6 in 10 women were likely to be overdiagnosed and subjected to therapies like chemotherapy or radiation without any apparent benefit.
The report is published in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine.