Breast cancer is a debilitating disease for millions of women across the United States and other parts of the world. However, current published research on the efficacy of mammogram screening shows mixed results. While frequent mammogram screenings will improve breast cancer detection, it may lead to the unnecessary treatment of benign tumors. According to some studies, an estimated one out of three detected breast cancer tumors receive unnecessary treatment.
While some studies indicate that excessive screening may lead to unnecessary treatment, industry groups worry that tightened detection protocols for mammogram screenings may result in missed tumors. The Radiological Society of North America released a new study that detailed how new federal recommendations for mammogram screening could result in poor detection of cancerous tissue.
Dr. Elizabeth Arleo, a researcher who studies trends in mammography screening, stated, "Recommendations on screening mammography are extremely important public policy and we wanted to contribute to that dialogue." She continued, “We get questions all day long from patients and referring physicians on the appropriateness of screening mammography. The inconsistent information is very confusing for everyone."
In 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force altered federal guidelines for mammography screening. Instead of annual screening for women between 50 and 74, the new guidelines recommended screening every two years. According to the U.S. group, many patients were receiving excessive treatment for tumors that presented little harm.