Published on April 3rd, 2012 | by Kim LaCapria1
Mammograms May Lead to Overdiagnosis of Breast Cancer, Study Says
Breast cancer emerged as a cause of significant interest in the 2000s, with pink ribbons, t-shirts and other awareness-related items becoming tremendously popular to promote knowledge about the common cancer.
However, a new study says that while women may be aware of breast cancer, due to regular screenings, the disease may also be somewhat overdiagnosed due to the fact that many women are hyperaware of the issue. A new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the incidence of diagnosis of the condition compared with overall death rates, and determined that aggressive screening didn’t necessarily reduce death rates- and that some women may experience similarly aggressive treatment in the case of misdiagnosis.
The study looked at data from Norway collected between 1996 to 2005, and found that 15 to 25% of the cancers discovered in screenings may have never turned out to be life-threatening. Mette Kalager is a visiting scientist at Harvard, and the study’s lead author. Kalager said:
“Once a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she has to be treated since we don’t know which one of these cancers has the potential to kill her and which ones don’t… But I think women should be informed about the possibility of overdiagnosis beforehand, so they can decide for themselves whether or not to be screened.”
The study took into account data from 40,000 women in Norway, and found six to 10 women overdiagnosed for every 2,500 in the mammogram study.