Local doctor weighs in on recent study that questions the value - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Local doctor weighs in on recent study that questions the value of mammograms

Posted: Updated:

American women know the drill. Get that first baseline mammogram at age 40. Since approximately one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer, the American Cancer Society teaches that mammogram save lives.

However, a long term Canadian-based study casts doubt as to whether mammograms truly make a difference when it comes to death rates in women. This was a huge study, following 90,000 women over 25 years. The study found that death rates from breast cancer were the same whether women had mammograms or not.  It also found that mammography can even result in unnecessary treatment.

One local doctor says she is not yet convinced by the study, but admits controversy over mammography is nothing new.

"Not everybody is going to get breast cancer. So I think that's where's the fine line of who needs mammograms and who doesn't," said Doctor April Maddux, general surgeon and oncologist at the Breast Care Center of Birmingham.

She is familiar with  debates surrounding mammography.

"I think the question still lies with where do we start. And that is still a debate in this country. Should we start at 40, should we start at 50, should we start at 30?," she said.

Though people may disagree about when to start having mammograms, Maddux says she's surprised about this Canadian study that questions the value of mammograms altogether.

"At this point in time I would still say yes, screening mammograms are important. And I would still start at the age of 40. We even actually recommend a base line at 35 just so we have something to compare."

The controversial 25-year study just released found mammograms are not as instrumental in saving lives as we believe. By following 90,000 women for two and a half decades, researchers  found annual mammographies did not reduce deaths from breast cancer. 180 women died who had received mammograms. 171 women died who had not. 

Maddux says studies of trials conducted in the united states have proved otherwise.

"In this country, the eight randomized trials that they looked at did show a reduction by 15 to 30 percent in mortality rate by screening mammograms."

The Canadian researchers claim studies that found mammograms are helpful were done prior to the use of Tamoxifen, a drug that greatly reduces the death rate. The study also found 22 percent of women were being over diagnosed with cancers that would never have been fatal. Still, many of these women underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Maddux calls that information misleading.

"If you've got cancer cells beginning to form that's not really an invasive cancer. If you diagnose that in an 60 or 70 year old woman, yeah that's probably not going to kill them. But if you diagnose that in a 40 year old lady, leave that there long enough and it will take their life," she said.

Maddux, along with many other American doctors who have spoken out about the study, question the technology used.

"Those mammograms that were done there are your old mammograms. They are not the high tech digital mammograms that we've been doing."

Still, the chief of cancer control for the American Cancer Society says the Canadian study will be reviewed prior to issuing revised guidelines later this year.

"What they may do is say we're not going to start screening mammograms until 50 if we're on a national screening program. That, I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Not from a mortality standpoint, but from a cost standpoint alone."

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • 5 children who were allegedly killed by father loved superheroes, playing with dad

    5 children who were allegedly killed by father loved superheroes, playing with dad

    Sunday, September 14 2014 12:45 AM EDT2014-09-14 04:45:32 GMT
    The five children who authorities say were killed by their father loved to dress up as superheroes, play in the park and pool, and pose for the camera, always smiling. And they loved "wrestling with their dad."More >>
    The five children who authorities say were killed by their father loved to dress up as superheroes, play in the park and pool, and pose for the camera, always smiling. And they loved "wrestling with their dad."
    More >>
  • Ruling in Victoryland trial weeks away

    Ruling in Victoryland trial weeks away

    Friday, September 12 2014 9:14 PM EDT2014-09-13 01:14:58 GMT
    It was the 4th and final day of the trial over a 20-13 raid by the Alabama Attorney General's office at Victoryland Casino. But, it will be several weeks before we know the outcome. Attorneys for the casino and the state attorney general's office wrapped up their cases in a Montgomery courtroom Friday afternoon. Circuit Judge William Shashy gave lawyers four weeks to file more legal arguments before he rules.Earlier in the day, two former state lawmakers took the stand and said that voters in...More >>
    It was the 4th and final day of the trial over a 20-13 raid by the Alabama Attorney General's office at Victoryland Casino. But, it will be several weeks before we know the outcome. Attorneys for the casino and the state attorney general's office wrapped up their cases in a Montgomery courtroom Friday afternoon. Circuit Judge William Shashy gave lawyers four weeks to file more legal arguments before he rules.Earlier in the day, two former state lawmakers took the stand and said that voters in...More >>
  • Alabama Strong: Anniston woman goes above and beyond to help local kids

    Alabama Strong: Anniston woman goes above and beyond to help local kids

    Thursday, September 11 2014 8:55 PM EDT2014-09-12 00:55:02 GMT
    A young stay-at-home mother of two is going above and beyond in Calhoun County, making sure elementary school students don't go hungry at home on weekends.More >>
    A young stay-at-home mother of two is going above and beyond in Calhoun County, making sure elementary school students don't go hungry at home on weekends.
    More >>
  • Tuscaloosa Area NewsMore>>

  • Blake Sims leads Alabama to 52-12 win over Southern Miss

    Blake Sims leads Alabama to 52-12 win over Southern Miss

    Saturday, September 13 2014 11:25 PM EDT2014-09-14 03:25:34 GMT
    Blake Sims passed for two touchdowns and rushed for a third in three quarters and might have staked his claim as No. 3 Alabama's undisputed starting quarterback in a 52-12 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday night.More >>
    Blake Sims passed for two touchdowns and rushed for a third in three quarters and might have staked his claim as No. 3 Alabama's undisputed starting quarterback in a 52-12 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday night.
    More >>
  • See Alabama 9-12: Camp Aliceville

    See Alabama 9-12: Camp Aliceville

    See Alabama features Camp Aliceville, which is said to house the largest collection of World War II POW memorabilia in the United States.More >>
    See Alabama features Camp Aliceville, which is said to house the largest collection of World War II POW memorabilia in the United States.More >>
  • 4 UA students facing assault charges in on-campus beating

    4 UA students facing assault charges in on-campus beating

    Thursday, September 11 2014 1:47 PM EDT2014-09-11 17:47:50 GMT
    Authorities say four University of Alabama students are facing charges after another student was attacked and badly beaten at a campus dormitory.More >>
    Authorities say four University of Alabama students are facing charges after another student was attacked and badly beaten at a campus dormitory.
    More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...