Medical studies and recommendations for best patient care are often confusing and contradictory. This week a very large Canadian study was released showing data that indicated that the routine use of mammograms did not save lives, and in fact, caused unnecessary procedures.
However, many other studies have data supporting the idea that mammograms do save lives. In addition, professional groups like the American Cancer, Family Physician, and GYN Societies all support the use of regular mammogram screening. Supporting this opinion of using screening mammography is the fact that breast cancer death rates have shown a steady decline this country over the past few years.
These contradictory studies create some confusion among many doctors and patients. I believe that all of the studies have some truth to them and we need to try to understand what the different studies are telling us.
Every patient is unique and has different relative risks. Every patient should have a real discussion with their health care provider about the risks and benefits of these medical tests. The time to do that best is at the annual health check up, so make sure that you get that annual preventive check up and have that discussion with your health care provider.