According to CBS news, an independent British study has found that for every one woman that was diagnosed with cancer because of a mammogram, nearly three other women were overdiagnosed with the deadly disease. This number was reached by analyzing eleven trials in Canada, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S. Those women ended up treated for cancer that never posed a threat to their lives. The term overdiagnosis does not mean misdiagnosis, it refers to women treated for cancers that are too slowly growing to place their lives at risk.
While mammograms still save many lives, the down side of them is that some cancers will be treated that would never threaten the lives of those women and scientists cannot tell which cancers are deadly and which are not, resulting in this huge overdiagnosis that we are seeing. This overdiagnosis can be harmful because women overdiagnosed will receive chemotherapy, radiation or surgery for breast cancer that is not deadly.
Some scientists are pleased that finally there is a study showing that mammograms have negative side effects because most women have never heard the term overdiagnosis, let alone understanding what it means. Overdiagnosis is a serious issue that affects women, their families, the insurance industry and the medical community in general. Women need to understand that a mammogram is only one important tool in the fight against breast cancer, and that it comes with a risk.
If anything this new report is important simply because women can make a more informed decision about their breast health, as opposed to walking blindly into their doctor’s office expecting a mammogram that is 100% accurate. Women now have alternatives to the standard mammogram, such as thermography, 3-D mammography, ultrasounds or even MRI. This new study helps women understand that their only option is not a mammogram and that in many cases it may not be their best option. For many women with dense breasts, a traditional mammogram will often not be the best detection tool for them. In fact, there is a growing trend among many states to require doctors to tell women if they have highly dense breast tissue. Illinois is not one of them, but it does require that insurance companies provide for an ultrasound screening for women with dense breasts.
This new study is important for woman and their families as it provides alternatives that may save lives. Every day thousands of patients rely on the advice and guidance of medical providers. When these providers fail to follow the appropriate standard of care and a patient’s condition worsens, he or she may be able to seek legal recourse to hold wrongdoers accountable.
Our Chicago attorneys have a long and successful history of successfully representing clients who have been harmed by medical negligence. If you or a loved one has been injured by an overdiagnosis of breast cancer please contact our office to find out your legal options.