Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor: Mammography saves lives

On April 7, the Centre Daily Times published an article summarizing the latest attack on screening mammography, this time an estimate of supposedly unnecessary costs associated with screening.

This biased viewpoint is promoted by a research fellow and a pediatrician.

Curiously, those actually involved in the detection and treatment of breast cancer, such as surgeons, oncologists and radiologists, are frequently left out of discussions about the alleged controversy of mammography.

The reality is that screening mammography is conservatively associated with a 30 percent reduction in breast cancer deaths.

The recent Pan-Canadian Study of Mammography Screening involving 2.7 million women demonstrates the reduction is closer to 40 percent.

The authors of this latest article highlighted in the media claim billions of dollars are wasted annually on overdiagnosed cancers and false positive results, implying specialists are making money off hapless patients/victims.

They don’t bother to explain that we do not have the means to determine which cancers are harmful and which are not without tissue sampling.

Readers should ask themselves whether, if a small cancer be detected, they would prefer to have it removed or roll the dice and hope that their cancer is among the 20 percent that might not progress.

I invite readers to visit www.mammographysaveslives.org for further information. This site is maintained by the Society of Breast Imaging, a group of genuine experts in the field of breast cancer detection.

Kelly Biggs


The writer is director of the Tyrone Hospital department of radiology.