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Vital Signs: Are Mammograms Worth The Effort?


A study published in February of 90,000 women over 25 questions the value of mammography in detecting breast cancer. Among the findings:

  • Death rates from breast cancer and from all causes were the same in women who had mammograms and those who did not.
  • There was no advantage to finding breast cancers when they were too small to feel.
  • Too much screening for mammography. One out of five cancers found with mammography and treated was not a threat to the woman’s health and did not need treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery or radiation.

Dr. Lakshmi Kannan, an oncologist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, says she believes the study has serious flaws. She also took issue with the finding of advanced treatments making early detection less important:

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Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.