Saturday, February 12, 2011

3-D Mammograms

The FDA has approved 3D-Mammograms.  The news of this development was all over the TV and newspapers.  I can already imagine radiologists donning their 3-D glasses and pouring over the films.  The hype leaves the impression that women are going to be better off with this newer better technological improvement over the standard 2-D X-rays they now have.  There are a few problems here in Mudville, however.

The first issue is that there is only a 7% diagnostic improvement.  The pro-mammogram elements in medicine have tried to gloss over the rather dismal accuracy record of mammograms, misleading women into thinking they were essential screenings regardless of accuracy.  Yet the truth has been they've always only had about a 54% accuracy rate in
detecting cancer.  So, a 7% improvement still only measures up to a 61% detection rate and at what cost to all women having the procedure?

For the history of mammograms they've made adamant claims that the radiation exposure was worth the risks, carefully NOT delineating the risks at all.  Early mammograms used much higher radiation, but they said it was the only responsible thing for a woman to do.  Later mammograms used less radiation, which they used as a huge marketing ploy for radiation-shy women.  But, the lower radiation frequently caused them to use multiple shots to get an accurate reading -- so the radiation hits were just as bad; and all the hits have always been cumulative in damage to cell DNA.  So, along comes a "new and improved" X-ray exposure in 3-D that DOUBLES the amount of radiation used.  Are you feeling a little nervous about the breast "care" to which the conventional medical profession seems myopically stuck?

There are non-radiation alternatives.  Knowing the feel of your own breasts through the course of a month is a significant alternative.  Having your doctor or gynecologist feel them thoroughly is an alternative.  Photographic or computerized regulation thermography is an alternative.  MRI is an alternative (though far more expensive and often not justifiable in most women for screening purposes.)

Plus, there are a host of preventive measures every woman should be working on all the time.  I'll go over these again in a few days.  Stay tuned.

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