ClickCease Task Force Challenges Uefulness of Mammograms, Sparks Debate
11/16/09   |   By

Federal Task Force Challenges Usefulness of Mammograms, Sparks Intense Debate | DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog

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Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire

As reported in the Washington Post, a federal task force has concluded, “Women in their 40s should stop routinely getting annual mammograms, and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year.”

The report notes that higher than “182,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States, and the disease kills more than 40,000, making it the second most common cancer after skin cancer and the second leading cause of death from cancer among women after lung cancer.”  Consequently, challenging the usefulness of a long-used screening procedure–mammogram–has spurred heated debate among, physicians and academics.

The task force cites evidence that harms attendant to annual exams beginning at age 40 outweigh the potential benefits.  As the Post report states, mammograms “produce false-positive results in about 10 percent of cases, causing anxiety and often prompting women to undergo unnecessary follow-up tests, sometimes-disfiguring biopsies, and unneeded treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.”  Having said that, the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, and others assert that the benefits greatly outweigh the potential dangers.

Daniel B. Kopans, a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School, is quoted in the report, saying, “Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by mammography screening, and these idiots want to do away with it…It’s crazy — unethical, really.”

According to the report, the American Cancer Society has not indicated a desire to change its guidelines, but the National Cancer Institute said it would re-evaluate its recommendations.

We urge our readers to speak with their doctors and make individual decisions about what is best for your health.  It may be appropriate if not necessary for some women to have annual mammograms in light of their family history, for instance.  Others may be doing more harm than good by exposing themselves to annual mammograms.  Doctors should know what is best for each individual and should advise their patients accordingly so that women can make the best decisions that they can, and so their long-term health can be promoted.

To read the full Post article, please click here.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 1%” of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions stemming from misdiagnosed cancer and dangerous drugs.  He has also been named a “DC Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2009)–a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at [email protected] or call him at 202-822-1899.

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