Mammograms are important for you health. Screening has been said to reduce the overall mortality from breast cancer by 28-35%. Knowing this, almost 70% of women have been getting regular mammograms. And the rate of breast cancer detection has declined as a result.
Mammograms can detect other health issues. Mammograms can detect dense breasts, calcium deposits which are the signs of vascular disease, they can even detect things about collagen depletion. But, yes mammograms are most important in that detection of precancerous and cancerous breast changes.
In women with breast cancer detected, if they follow through and they are given rigorous treatments; these treatments are difficult and have side effects, but still extremely effective.
Women are reluctant to get mammograms as frequently, or in some cases at all as a few recent studies show that there can be negatives to having a mammogram. These negatives extend beyond the rigors of the breast cancer treatments. Mammograms are certainly not perfect, there can be tests that are read negative that are positive, and women that are told they are positive may be negative. Women can be over-diagnosed. Meaning they have a small breast cancer, but it is either not yet at a stage that needs to be treated, or it never needed to be treated. The consequences of being over diagnosed are that women undergo treatments that they didn’t need. The most recent study to look into this called the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database. Over the 122 cases found on mammography used in 100,000 women; only 8 probably were serious enough to treat. This report thus concluded that over 1 million women were over treated for breast cancers. Because of these findings, women need to look at the facts themselves, and look with their gynos at the facts and make ongoing decisions as to how many screenings.
Although ultrasound of the breast did beat mammography in a few studies, no ultrasound screening plan has been shown to prolong life. As accurate as mammography is, it may not be a sensitive enough test for those who actually have family history or other reasons to be at more risk. For that you made need additional tests like MRIs, which are very costly, and not widely available..
Information and your personal risks may change. But experts are looking at these numbers carefully, and guidelines will likely evolve as they do. What is most important to determine: is this test important for women, but also is this test important for you?