Women in their 40s undergoing routine mammograms should ponder the risks and benefits of the breast x-ray exam, according to the American College of Physicians.
The ACP suggests that routine mammograms should be decided on a case-to-case scenario; therefore each woman should consult her doctor before doing the mammograms.
For women in their 50s, even the ACP agree that the benefits are clearly greater than the risk of running breast x-rays.
The risks of mammography screening include exposure to radiation and unnecessary biopsies, surgery and chemotherapy.
The ACP's recent recommendation conflicts with the current stance of several other leading medical groups, including the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute.
Douglas Owens of Stanford University: "We agree that mammography can save lives. But there are also potential harms. We don't think the evidence supports a blanket recommendation. All we're saying is that women should be informed about the risks and benefits so they can make a decision based on all the facts.""
Robert A. Smith, director of cancer screening at the American Cancer Society, disagrees with the recently published set of guideline: "The danger here is that some women will elect not to get screened. Mammography is the single most effective way of finding breast cancer early, and when we find breast cancer early women have the greatest chance of successful treatment."
Dr. William Golden, American College of Physicians: "The evidence is not strong enough to say that all women should be screened and it should be based on individual reasons."
Mammography uses X-rays to look for different types of tumors and cysts, thus reducing mortality from breast cancer. Alongside self-breast examination (SBE) and physician examination, mammograms save many lives.
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