Do Mammograms Lead to Unnecessary Treatment?


Graph showing how mammorgrams may lead to unecessary treatment

Mammograms, the yearly breast cancer exams long recommend by doctors for women in their 40s and 50s, have been under intense scrutiny in recent years. While some hold that the test is essential for detecting new cancers, others say that it leads to over-diagnosis of benign tumors and excessive, unnecessary treatment that can do more harm than good. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine supports the latter claim, as demonstrated in this graphic from The study found that despite an increase in detection of all invasive breast cancers after screenings became widespread in the 80s, the rate of cases of metastatic cancers has remained fairly flat. Therefore, these screenings may have led to far more treatments of tumors that, while cancerous, would not have posed a threat to the patient if left alone.

Databyte via Christie Aschwanden, Even More Evidence That Mammograms Have Been Oversold.