Breast Cancer Imaging Controversies Continue

2011-09-27
 

Medical Imaging and breast cancerThe preventive mammogram, a long-time staple of medical imaging clinics, is increasingly under attack. And given the inconclusive evidence from researchers from both sides of the debate about the usefulness of preventive mammograms, the attacks won’t go away anytime soon.

In the latest issue of Radiology, proponents and opponents of preventive mammograms each ran an editorial.

Opponents noted that breast cancer mortality in Europe fell between 1989 and 2005 despite the lack of organized screening. They also noted that Sweden’s breast cancer mortality rate fell more slowly than the rest of Europe’s despite having the most extensive screening program in Europe. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the most common mammography-detected breast cancer, only develops in half of all cases, the researchers claimed, leading physicians who rely on medical imaging to overdiagnose and overtreat thousands of patients. They are also worried that the more sensitive CAD and ultrasound medical imaging techniques will only lead more physicians to treat women who should not, according to the mortality statistics, be treated.

Proponents of preventive medical imaging acknowledge some overdiagnosis of breast cancer on the basis of medical imaging, but think that the benefits of early detection outweigh the possible dangers of treatment. They argued that for every overdiagnosis, there are more than two lives saved because of early detection. There is also no evidence, they stated, that breast cancers, if left alone, will often regress – and that includes DCIS. Their conclusion: Inform women so that they can make their own decisions about treatment – and possible overtreatment.

No doubt, the arguments about breast cancer, medical imaging, and treatment options will continue. Hopefully, a cure for breast cancer will eventually put them all to rest.

To learn what McKesson has to offer in mammography imaging, please visit our web site.

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