Two Differing Positions Offered on Mammography
By Joel Fuhrman, M.D., www.drfuhrman.com
Dr. Fuhrman’s Comments Offer More Hope For Women Than Those of The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
The Official U.S. Government Position On Mammograms Offers Little Hope To Women. It States:
“The absolute probability of benefits of regular mammography increases along a continuum with age, whereas the likelihood of harms from screening (false-positive results and unnecessary anxiety, biopsies, and cost) diminishes from ages forty to seventy. The balance of benefits and potential harms, therefore, grows more favorable as women age. The precise age at which the potential benefits of mammography justify the possible harms is a subjective choice. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force did not find sufficient evidence to specify the optimal screening interval for women aged forty to forty-nine.” The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force 2002.
Dr. Fuhrman’s Comments Offer More Information and Hope:
“Breast cancer is an emotionally charged topic that gets a great deal of media attention, and results of breast cancer studies are often presented out of context. Despite all of the research that contraindicates the current widespread use of mammography, doctors tend to conform to the generally accepted standard of care, no matter what that standard is. Even doctors “in the know” have no time to discuss all the pros and cons of mammograms with patients; they only have time to write a prescription and move on to the next patient. It is extremely rare to find a doctor who is well informed and interested in practicing true prevention—by making sure their female patients exercise, don’t drink alcohol, stay slim, and eat a plant-based diet, loaded with high nutrient vegetables.
“If you decide to have a mammogram, keep in mind there is a good chance an abnormality will be found that will require further investigation. By agreeing to undergo an initial mammogram, you are accepting the follow-up steps too. You have a good possibility of needing multiple views, repeat testing, needle aspirations, and excisional biopsies to track down all architectural distortions in the breast that could potentially be cancer. The medical profession’s intrusion in your life can be extreme, and you can end up living your life in fear. Perhaps there is a better way.
“In the long run, if medical science is going to help women by screening for breast cancer, we need to find a screening tool that detects precancerous changes, so that something can be done before the cancer occurs, along the lines of what the Pap smear does for cervical cancer.
“It matters little whether your doctor thinks mammograms are effective, or even if data in the future lends more evidence to support the use of mammograms. The benefits of detection can never be substantial as long as we are finding cancer at a stage when the human eye has to see it on a film. Instead, we need to devote our efforts, money, and research into finding a tool that really can find precancerous changes in the breast and save lives. At present, this is unlikely to happen because of the billions invested in mammogram equipment and the huge investment in medical egos. Even without a better screening tool, if the millions of dollars currently spent trying to coax women to get mammograms were spent to educate and coax women to breast-feed and avoid the causes of cancer, we would save millions of women’s lives.”