A new study published in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday has found that annual mammograms do not lower the risk of dying from breast cancer and may increase the number of women unnecessarily getting treated for breast cancer.
The Canadian study tracked 90,000 women aged 40-59 over a 25 year span.
Researchers broke the women up into two groups: women who had annual breast exams by a nurse to check for lumps plus a mammogram, and those who only underwent a nurse's breast exam.
The result? Breast cancer death rates were similar in both groups, suggesting little benefit from mammograms.
According to The New York Times, researchers sought to determine whether there was any advantage to finding breast cancers when they were too small to feel and the answer was a resounding no.
“It will make women uncomfortable, and they should be uncomfortable,” Dr. Russell P. Harris, a screening expert and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the study told The New York Times. “The decision to have a mammogram should not be a slam dunk.”
It has been reported that these findings will not lead to any immediate change in guidelines for mammography, and many advocates and experts will very likely dispute the idea that mammograms are useless or even harmful.