For decades, women have been told to undergo annual mammograms after the age of 40 to detect breast cancer at its earliest stage. A new Dutch study published in Annals of Internal Medicine reported that an estimated one-third of all women diagnosed with breast cancer following a mammogram are being treated unnecessarily. The study’s authors concluded that women diagnosed with small, slow-growing cancerous breast tumors are undergoing surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy that may actually put their health at risk for tumors that may shrink or stop growing on their own.
A spokesperson from the American Cancer Society responded to the study findings by affirming that not all breast cancers are alike. In his editorial, he stated that the assumption that all breast cancers have the potential to turn into life-threatening conditions is similar to racial profiling. Tumors and tissue that appear similar under a microscope may not all turn into an aggressive cancer. While early detection is the key to treating cancers that grow and spread, aggressive cancer treatment for all breast cancer patients puts many at unnecessary risks.
The American Cancer Society reports that over 250,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed and over 40,000 fatalities from breast cancer are reported each year in the United States. In addition to these, over 60,000 women will be diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is a condition that has cells with cancerous traits that may appear to be malignant, but have not spread to surrounding tissue. The American Cancer Society considers this to be the earliest stage of breast cancer and often recommends the same surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy that women with advanced breast cancer undergo.
DCIS Treatment is Controversial
The American Cancer Society recommends that DCIS be treated the same as aggressive breast cancer to stop it from becoming an invasive form of the disease. Other medical experts in the field of breast cancer treatment argue that since DCIS is not life-threatening, it should be treated as a risk factor for breast cancer and followed closely. The debate continues as medical professionals in breast cancer research try to measure the risks of aggressive treatment with the health concerns the treatment.
Early detection through mammograms is still valued as a tool to discovering breast cancer at its earliest stages; however, many in the medical community are changing their screening recommendations. While the American College of Radiology still recommends annual mammogram screenings for women beginning at age 40, the American Cancer Society has changed its recommendation to annual mammograms for women aged 45-54, with mammograms every two years after 55 years of age. Early detection by mammogram screening is estimated to reduce the risk of fatal breast cancer by up to 31 percent for women between 40 to 69 years of age.
Delaware County Medical Malpractice Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Victims of Medical Malpractice
If you or someone you know has been misdiagnosed or has undergone unnecessary medical treatment, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced and knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyers in Delaware County at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are dedicated to helping victims of medical negligence claim the justice and compensation they deserve.
Call us at 215-569-8488, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. We serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.