Mammography is a diagnostic technique for examining human breast using low-energy i.e. around 30 kVp X-rays. Mammograms are x-ray images of the breast, which are used to detect breast cancer in women at an early stage. This is usually before the disease could show any symptoms or in case of a lump or any other change in the breast.
Young as well as older women in developed countries have been recommended regular mammograms for years for early detection of the cancerous disease. Since, early detection can help cut the number of deaths that occur due to breast cancer, especially in the age group of 40 to 70 years. Also, a mammogram has been proved promising to show tumor growth as compared to a physical exam.
But, despite a huge research and funding backing the subject matter, varied experts in medical communities have countered mammography introduced by mammography machine manufacturer.
A mammogram has not come out to expose patients to harmful radiations, but the odds of inaccuracy are also high and the costs it incurs are huge.
In 2001, health officials in the US recommended regular mammograms to women of age 40 years and above. But, the benefits have come out to be limited in varied study results as compared to the harms that the procedure causes.
The false positive diagnosis rate has been huge, which is why doctors doubt the effectiveness of a mammogram. Sometimes, the detected tumor is actually not a tumor, and sometimes, no tumor is shown when a tumor is actually there. A study conducted on 60,000 women showed that around 70% of them who were diagnosed with tumors did not have tumors. Though, this false information stressed out not only the patients, but their family members too. In fact, patients needed to undergo invasive biopsies (needless otherwise), which held the potential to affect their health.
The most dangerous part is that a person can actually develop the disease due to the emotional stress that the false positive results can cause to them. Chemotherapy, mastectomies, or the radiations conducted needlessly, can have a serious impact on economic and physical well-being of a person. Also, regular mammography exposes a person to ionizing radiation, a series of which could actually risk women at developing breast cancer.
According to experts, annual mammography elevates the breast cancer risk by almost 2% every year. Younger women are comparatively at greater risk. Studies found that they are 52% more vulnerable to breast cancer mortality due to annual examination. While mammography may identify only 15 cases, it may actually result in 75 breast cancer cases per 15 diagnoses. Thus, every mammography machine manufacturer must make attempts to replace the technique.
Researchers say that oncogene AC-named gene is too sensitive to radiation, and thus, women with this gene face greater risk of cancer when exposed to mammography. Mammography also demands breast compression, which may emit cancerous cells into the circulation, augmenting malignant spread jeopardy in women. Approximately 10,000 younger women are at risk of dying of breast cancer each year with the reason being mammography. In fact, those with the tumor catch the risk of metastasizing the same.