Posted: July 7, 2020

There is a decades-long argument about the role of mammography in improving outcome in women with breast cancer.  Conventional wisdom is that it is very helpful, but naysayers, the most famous of whom is Dr. Gilbert Welch of Harvard Medical School, contend that we are diagnosing too many cancers that will never be harmful and are costing women time, anxiety, treatment side effects and money.  Now comes an article published in CANCER in May, 2020 that informs on the subject in a powerful way.  Email Dr. Stark (use the form on the right) if you want the full article.  The Swedish keep great records on their cancer patients.  They went back and looked at over 549,000 women who were eligible to receive mammograms in nine counties in Sweden.  80% of them got mammograms at the prescribed interval (every eighteen months for younger women, every two years for the rest up to age 69).  The difference in death from breast cancer was striking.  As you can see from the graph on the left, women  who  chose  not  to  be  screened had  a much  higher  death rate  from  breast  cancer.  The  numbers  are  huge  and the  results  are  very  striking.  Dr.  Stark  weighs  in:  This  argument  rages  on,  but  this  trial  is  a powerful  testiment  to  the power  of  breast  cancer  screening.  The  naysayers  haven’t  tried  to  trash  this  study  yet.