The benefits beyond lives saved are missing from many of the recent analyses of screening mammograms, Gralow said.
"Finding a cancer at an earlier stage, when it is smaller, and before it travels to the lymph nodes or beyond, means less chance of mastectomy and more chance of lumpectomy, less need for chemo or other drugs, less need for radiation, etcetera. Needing less aggressive therapy is a big bonus, and that's hard to calculate into the equation," she said.
Another expert, Dr. Kristin Byrne, chief of breast imaging at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, added that the new British "study is absolutely wrong."
Women should have a yearly mammogram, Byrne said. "It's studies like this that confuse us. It confuses physicians, it confuses patients," she said. "We know that mammograms reduce mortality by 30 percent."
For more on breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: James Raftery, Ph.D., professor, health technology assessment, Wessex Institute, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, England; Julie Gralow, M.D., director, breast medical oncology, and professor, oncology division,University of Washington, Seattle; Kristin Byrne, M.D., chief, breast imaging, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Dec. 8, 2011, BMJ, online
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