Mammography Plays Critical Role in Saving Lives

Posted by North Texas Cancer Center at Wise on April 28th, 2017

More than 230,000 American women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer each year. An estimated 40,000 die from this disease that is largely treatable when detected in its earliest phases. That is precisely why recent reports casting doubt on the importance of mammography are so terribly troubling to many healthcare professionals. While it is true that not every suspicious spot detected by a mammogram turns out to be cancer, thousands of lives are saved each and every year due to this simple and generally highly effective test.

At present, there are concerns that mammograms are leading to over-diagnosis of the disease and interventions that are too harsh for many cancers that are indeed found. While cases of both do exist, there are some highly compelling reasons why mammography remains a critical first line of defense against this often devastating disease. Here are just a few of them:

  • New technology is reducing false diagnosis rates – Those concerned about over-diagnosis are focusing on figures related to largely outdated mammogram technology. New, digital equipment and the introduction of 3D mammograms are increasing the accuracy rate of these screening exams. What’s more, major intervention doesn’t occur based on mammogram results alone. Biopsies are the steps that pave the way for clinical recommendations for treatment. Mammograms merely serve as an indicator that cancer may be a pressing concern. Other tools may also be used in advance of biopsies to enhance accuracy rates, as well. New alternatives include breast ultrasounds and MRIs.
  • Biopsy screenings have become more precise – Technological advances haven’t only occurred in the radiological field. Doctors now have tools available to them that enable better work in the pathology lab. It has become much easier for doctors to evaluate biopsies to distinguish aggressive tumors from more slow growing ones to help patients avoid overly invasive treatment that may not be strictly necessary.
  • Advanced breast cancer is still incurable – Delaying breast cancer screening can lead to diagnosis only coming in later stages of the disease. Stage four metastatic breast cancer remains very much incurable, but cancers caught earlier are often highly treatable.

All women are at risk for breast cancer as they age. Routine screening through self-exams, regular checkups with healthcare providers and mammograms, when recommended, can lead to early detection and successful treatment. Women who are concerned about breast cancer should speak with their healthcare providers for information about when and how screening should take place. Should a diagnosis of breast cancer be reached, women are urged to carefully weigh their treatment options with their doctors.

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise, a division of Choice Cancer Care, is now operating as the Cancer Center at Wise Regional and is one of the most renowned cancer treatment centers in Texas.

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise
Joined: February 24th, 2016
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