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Mammography Review Shatters the Status Quo
Doubts About Its Value Alarm Many
By Ceci Connolly, Washington Post Staff Writer February 17, 2002 (Full article not available online anymore)
Her patients cannot believe it. For years they had taken it for granted that mammograms saved their lives, or would. For years they had subjected themselves to the cold metal of the machine, the painful pinch of the plates. After all, everyone knew that early detection prolongs life.
But new assessments of the pivotal research supporting the effectiveness of mammography have cast serious doubt on that assumption, and Carolyn Hendricks, a Bethesda oncologist, finds herself "inundated" with questions. "Many patients are asking me, 'Why bother? What really is the point?' " she said. "Many women feel betrayed."
Breast-screening is failing women, says man who set it up
'I love women. I have been married for 44 years to Judy, a truly fantastic woman. I had a great mother. I have an outstanding sister and two daughters. I am fortunate to count many women among my most respected colleagues.
'Professor Mike Baum talks about women in a way that combines genuine affection and respect. It is clear, whatever people might say about his controversial position on breast cancer screening, it is inspired by profound compassion.
As one of the UK's leading breast cancer specialists, he has done a huge amount in the fight against one of the biggest killers of women in this country.
X-Ray Vision in Hindsight: Science, Politics and the Mammogram
The February 11, 2002 New York Times article by GINA KOLATA and MICHAEL MOSS.
For decades, it was an article of medical faith: Get a mammogram; it could save your life.
Now, seemingly overnight, that faith has been shaken. The mammogram — that yearly ritual for millions of American women — has become the focus of a bitter and unusually public scientific dispute that is being fought in the pages of medical journals and the columns of daily newspapers. Scientists, policy makers and politicians have scheduled meetings and Congressional hearings.
In the end, though, there is not likely to be a quick answer to the central question of whether researchers were right when they said that screening healthy women reduces death from breast cancer or, to put it another way, whether women should still get that annual mammogram.
"What a mess, what a complete mess," said Cindy Pearson, executive director of the Women's National Health Network, an advocacy group that has been flooded in recent days with phone calls from anxious women. "They want to know what is all this based on, is there some sort of sneaky, behind-the-scenes thing going on?"
How that mess came to be is a story of science and politics and the business of medicine, and a war on cancer that seized upon mammography as a central weapon. It also is a story of the way science struggles toward an ever evolving "truth."