Doctors and Survivors Speak Out on a Mammogram Study - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Doctors and Survivors Speak Out on a Study that Questions Mammograms

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Montana -

A new study on mammograms is igniting major controversy across the nation, questioning if we need mammograms after all?

Dr. Harrer, an oncologist/Medical Director of Benefis Breast Center, says, "Most clinicians adhere strongly to the American Cancer Societies guidelines that women, starting at the age of 40, should get annual mammograms."

But the study is suggesting differently. It analyzed 90,000 subjects for over a quarter century. One group got regular mammograms and the other only received physical breast exams. 25 years later, researches were shocked to find 500 deaths in the mammogram group and 505 in the other. Showing that those receiving mammograms were just as likely to die from breast cancer as those who did not.

The study also found that mammograms come with a 22% chance over diagnosis, causing many women to get unnecessary treatment.

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in a life time. Therefore, the big question now is what's the right thing to do and are the benefits worth the risk? Local doctors are saying this study should not be over interpreted.

Dr. Harrer explains, "That's one study, in the context of multiple other studies over the last 15 to 20 years. Everyone of those determined that there was either a significant benefit to doing mammography or a strong trend in that direction."

Dr. Harrer also says those who support the study think it should still be compiled with other research before a final consensus is made.

For survivors, like Patty Jaraczeski, this study certainly hits home. In 1993 she had repeated mammograms to investigate a suspicious mass, but test results determined it was normal breast tissue.

Four years later, a mammogram showed she had a mass in the same area, so doctors switched over to using an ultra sound. It was that ultra sound that diagnosed her with cancer. Not the mammogram. But even with her difficult story and this new studies results, its still not the mammograms she would have wanted to change.

She tells us, "I believe in mammograms. I believe it can be the first place to start. In hindsight, in 1993, I should have been more aware of my physical health and demanded some further tests, but at the time I didn't know any better."

She says her advice is not to ditch the mammogram, but instead, "I think we need to be in charge of our own medical health. If the doctors feel there's something suspicious, but its okay, we'll wait and see, those kinds of things, I think you need to take charge and say no. I want another test."

So while the research may be new, and the opinions on what is right may vary, for now multiple things remain the same. The need for mammograms, The need for more research and most importantly, the need to take charge. Don't be afraid to get the exam, and don't afraid to dig deeper.

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