UPDATED: Medics WRONG, As They Often Are, On One-Size-Fits-All Mammography

Healthcare,Individualism Vs. Collectivism,Intelligence,Science,Technology

Years back, paleo warrior Karen De Coster was fired by her doctor for questioning the wisdom of the prescribed annual mammogram and refusing to submit to it. Uncoordinated, and in the same month, I was given my marching orders by my medic for a related infraction.

Just the other day, at the (new) doctor’s office, I was treated as an alien for suggesting that an ultrasound be performed for an additional data point, to alternate with the mammogram the provider kept pressing for. Be a daredevil, I suggested (not in those words, of course); get a different angle on the breast tissue! The providers’ response–from doctor to radiographer: “OMG! Nooooo … there’s a heretic among us. Reach for the smelling salts. Should we call security????!!! This could escalate.”

Pretty much.

Now the data suggest that mammography belongs not as an annual rule, but, rather, in the context of a personalized, individualized healthcare strategy, tailored to a woman’s genetic and general risk profile—the kind of holistic healthcare less likely under the trillion-dollar burden of ObamaCare.

From “American Cancer Society eases mammogram recommendations”:

In a major shift, the American Cancer Society is recommending that women at average risk of breast cancer get annual mammograms starting at age 45 rather than at age 40, and that women 55 and older scale back screening to every other year.

The new guidelines, published on Tuesday in JAMA, fall more closely in line with guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government-backed panel of experts that recommend biennial breast cancer screening starting at age 50 for most women.

The Task Force’s 2009 recommendations to reduce the frequency and delay the start of mammogram screening were based on studies suggesting the benefits of detecting cancers earlier did not outweigh the risk of false positive results, which needlessly expose women to additional testing, including a possible biopsy. …

… The differences between the two sets of guidelines shows there is no single or correct answer for when and how often women should be screened for breast cancer, said Dr. Nancy Keating of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Keating, who co-wrote a commentary accompanying the new guidelines, said the differences between the two groups emphasize the need to talk to patients and understand their preferences about breast cancer screening. …

UPDATE: There are risk in radiation and in the exploration of false positives (biopsies or further interventions that cause disease). Overall, the data show that the annual mammogram doesn’t reduce mortality from breast cancer.