It was shortly after my mother passed away from breast cancer (that had metastasized to her brain) that the mammogram I had just undergone detected I had a questionable lump on my left breast and they were going to need a biopsy. What? Really?
So I waited terrified for days to find out what my fate would be. Thankfully, it was benign. But my question was and still is, if I did have a cancerous tumor, would I really want to crush it between 2 plates? Wouldn’t the vigorous breast compression actually encourage the spread of an existing malignancy?
Turns out a lot of people and even medical professionals have that same question! A review of some of the scientific trials evaluating the procedure found that mammography is neither effective nor safe.
Here’s some of the research:
- Data on more than 600,000 women between the ages of 39 and 74 who received their mammograms on a regular basis shows that many women are misdiagnosed and consequently are mistreated with chemotherapy.In a review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the authors concluded that mammography causes more harm than good, saying “If we assume that screening reduces breast cancer mortality by 15% and that over diagnosis and overtreatment is at 30%, it means that for every 2000 women invited for screening throughout 10 years, one will avoid dying of breast cancer and 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be treated unnecessarily.”
- Another study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) came to a similar conclusion. A team of medical professionals that included a medical ethicist, a clinical epidemiologist, a pharmacologist, an oncologic surgeon, a nurse scientist, a lawyer and a health economist, decided that the medical industry’s claims about the benefits of mammography are essentially bunk.They found that for every 1,000 women screened in the U.S. over a 10-year annual screening period beginning at age 50, one breast cancer death would be prevented, while a shocking 490 to 670 women would have a false positive, while 70 to 100 would undergo an unnecessary biopsy. Between three and 14 of these women, the study found, would also be over-diagnosed for a non-malignant form of cancer that never even would have become “clinically apparent.”
- These studies corroborate with another one out of Canada – the 2014 Canadian National Breast Screening Study – which concluded in lockstep with the others that mammography screenings do not reduce mortality rates from breast cancer any better than a simple physical examination. In other words, the procedure is completely unnecessary, and in many cases exceptionally harmful.
And the list of studies with similar conclusions goes on and on…which calls into question why mammography continues to be used when it clearly doesn’t work. Furthermore, if you don’t have breast cancer already when you walk in the door, the chances are very real of developing it from repeated, annual exposure to this insanely high level of ionizing radiation!
“Mammograms increase the risk for developing breast cancer and raise the risk of spreading or metastasizing an existing growth” ~ Dr. Charles B. Simone MD, a former clinical associate in immunology and pharmacology at the National Cancer Institute
Unfortunately, doctors and labs are aggressively against any alternative to mammograms and the sad reason is their bottom line. Mammograms make GYN’s and labs more money than the alternatives. Mammograms are big business!So what does a midlife master who understands the dangers of mammograms do instead? She takes matters into your own hands, that’s what! Today a woman can choose to skip out on the dangerous annual mammogram and get a safe breast ultrasound instead.
The good news is a breast ultrasound is far more effective at detecting breast cancer. You can also get a breast ultrasound without a prescription. About 5 years ago I discovered the company HerScan and have happily used them ever since.
7 Reasons a Breast Ultrasound is better than a Mammogram.
- Breast ultrasound is painless with no breast compression. There is no radiation exposure, and it is implant safe.
- Your results are read by a Board-Certified Radiologist. HerScan Sonographers are Registered RDMS, and are highly experienced breast specialists.
- No Prescription Required!
- Breast ultrasound takes 15 – 20 minutes on average.
- Breast ultrasound is BETTER for ALL women, but most especially critical for the 50% of women with dense breast tissue. On a mammogram, dense tissue appears white and cancerous tumors also appear white making it nearly impossible to “see” the tumor. It’s like trying to finding a snowball in a snowstorm. Studies confirm that Mammography misses every other cancer in women with dense breasts.
- Powerful ultrasound technology can see breast abnormalities that cannot be seen by mammography or by physical exam. Ultrasound sees all the way to the chest wall!
So take your power back and be the midlife master you are. You’re probably going to get some push back from your GYN, so be prepared with the research so you can share why you are choosing a different route. A breast ultrasound is not currently covered by insurance, but is very affordable for most women. Herscan also has a program to help women who cannot afford the test. (Unfortunately, they are not yet in every state, but hopefully soon!)
Debra Betterly, PhD is an Integrative Wellness & Life Coach and Metaphysician whose passion is to help women expand their health, joy and purpose in midlife and beyond.
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