• Mammography Madness

    Posted November 25, 2012: by Bill Sardi

    A report published at the New York Times Online Magazine op-ed pages is startling because it says more than its words. It says American medicine hid from view the ineffectiveness of mammography and still does today, with impunity.

    There is no medical board to de-license doctors who remove women’s breasts without just cause. Physicians prey upon women’s fears and disfigure them. Worse, there is only public outcry that any less mammography would represent rationing of care. So over 1 million American women undergo needless screening (mammograms) and subsequent invasive care.

    When healthcare costs are a front-page issue, 1 million over-diagnosed and over-treated American women @$20,000-50,000 per head would = $20-$50 billion of needless care.  Mammography costs $5 billion alone.  That is no small stack of money.

    A few years ago pathologists examined women who died. They found a significant number had breast tumors, but that wasn’t the cause of their death. That study conclusively showed better than 90% of women with breast cancer will die with but not of their cancer. But that study changed nothing.  The parade of women undergoing mammograms and mastectomies continued.

    Since mammograms expose women’s breasts to radiation and subsequent radiation-induced tumors, at what point do mammograms increase the risk for radiation-induced tumors over and above lives saved by early detection and treatment?  Screening by mammography would have to reduce breast cancer mortality by 51% at age 25-29 years, by 12% at age 30-34 years, and by 4% at age 35-39 years to outweigh the mortality risk posed by radiation itself.  It becomes obvious here that the increased risk for breast cancer due to mammography-related radiation exposure is often greater than any alleged life-saving by early treatment.

    Worse yet, the New York Times report reveals of a common practice – that of coercing women to undergo mammography (“I can’t be your doctor if you don’t get one”).

    If modern medicine cannot police itself, who can? Any intervention by non-physicians is considered invasion of the patient-doctor relationship.  Greedy doctors hide behind this cloak of privacy.

    Little is said that mammography screening centers are largely unprofitable unless a given amount of surgery and adjuvant care is billed to insurance.  Over-treatment is the order of the day.

    Frightened women, living in the shadow of a mother or sister who died of breast cancer, feel they have a right to decide to have their breasts removed or zapped with radiation or chemotherapy and that their insurance should cover this treatment.

    Regardless of whether lives are being saved, fearful women will search for peace of mind, even if the treatment is needless medically. An anxiety-laden woman with a lump in her breast is likely to keep searching until she finds a doctor who will remove it. Doctors know this, so they opt to collect the insurance dollars rather than their competitors.  The doctor who appears empathetic and caring may be nothing more than a con man.

    Arrogantly, physicians feel female patients with breast lumps who refuse treatment and opt for alternative therapies are opting for treatment that is “unproven.”  But  mastectomy, lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation have been disproven by virtue of the fact most treated cases are overdiagnosed.  There are published reports of patients who have refused to undergo conventional treatment for breast cancer and survived.

    Where are the women’s groups who pretend to be protecting women here?  All those pink lapel pins worn to help create awareness about breast cancer ought to be worn to alert women to avoid unnecessary screening and treatment.  Albeit, so-called consumer groups paraded that the failure to implement “Obamacare” would deprive millions of American women of preventive services such as mammography. When will this madness end? – Copyright 2012 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.

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