Monday, November 16, 2015

Neighmond's "Why is mammogram advice still such a tangle? Ask your doctor."

This news story discusses medical advice regarding dates for recommended annual mammograms for women.

Of particular interest for readers of this blog: Recommendations for regular mammograms are moving later and later in life. Because of the very high false positive rate associated with mammograms and subsequent breast tissue biopsies. However, women who have a higher probability (think genetics) are still being advised to have their mammograms earlier in life. Part of the reason that these changes are being made is because previous recommendations (start mammograms at 40) were based on data that was 30-40 years old (efficacy studies/replication are good things!). Also, I generally love counter-intuitive research findings: I think they make a strong argument for why research and data analysis are so very important.

I have blogged about this topic before. This piece by Christy Ashwanden contains some nice graphs and charts that demonstrate that enthusiastic preventative care to detect cancer (including breast cancer) isn't necessarily saving any lives. Another piece that touches on this topic is Sharon Begley's extensive article about how more medicine isn't necessarily better medicine. I use this article in my online class as a discussion prompt. And my online class is aimed at adult, working students who are RNs and are earning their BSNs, and they always have some great responses to this article (generally, they view it favorably).