How Effective are Mammograms and Breast Self-Exams?
The Mammogram Controversy
In September 2000 a Canadian research team released the results of a 13-year study of approximately 40,000 women aged 50 to 59. From 1980 to 1993, researchers followed the progress of two groups of women: those who received only yearly physical exams and those who received annual physicals as well as a yearly mammogram.
Researchers found that while more cancers were detected in the women who'd received mammography, their death rates from the disease were no lower than the rates among women who had physical exams only. (There were 88 deaths out of 622 incidences of breast cancer, or 14 percent in the mammogram group, and 80 deaths out of 612 incidences, or 13 percent, in the physicals-only group). The researchers' conclusion: yearly mammograms did not necessarily lead to an increase in survival rates once cancers were discovered.