It’s time to admit that mammograms are not perfect and that doctors are treating women who don’t need treatment for breast cancer, the American Cancer Society’s top doctor said Monday after yet another study showed breast cancer screening leads to many so-called false positives.
The new study found that as many as a third of women in Denmark diagnosed with breast cancer through mammograms either didn’t have malignant cancer, or had slow-growing tumors that didn’t need immediate treatment. And regular mammograms did not catch more advanced cancers, the team wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
“Breast cancer screening was not associated with a reduction in the incidence of advanced cancer,” Dr. Karsten Juhl Jørgensen of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen and colleagues wrote. “It is likely that one in every three invasive tumors and cases of DCIS diagnosed in screened women represent overdiagnosis.” DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in-situ, is a condition that many cancer experts argue shouldn’t even be called cancer. Sometimes it’s called breast cancer stage 0, although it’s a well-known risk factor for breast cancer.
The Afternoon Rush co-host Ebony Steele is a breast cancer survivor and women’s health advocate.