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Caution on the Mammography News

By now, you’ve likely heard about this study in BMJ, which found that, in a population of 90,000 women tracked for 25 years, cancer mortality was the same among women who’d received mammograms annually as it was among women in the control arm, who hadn’t. This has led to headlines like, “Vast Study Casts Doubts on Value of Mammograms,” or “Study Shows Mammograms Don’t Save Lives.” Those headlines (and the associated articles) aren’t inaccurate, but it’s important to note that the women in the mammogram arm of the study and the women in the control arm were all receiving annual breast breast exams. That is, the study shows that adding mammography to a regime of regular breast examination doesn’t do more than merely having regular breast examination. Women should not stop mammography without ensuring that they get, or continue to get, ordinary annual breast exams.

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