After years of being told that early detection was the key to treating breast cancer, many were understandably stunned last year when a panel of scientists concluded that women over 40 don’t need mammograms nearly as often as previously thought. And a new study out of Sweden raises even more questions about how often mammograms are needed.
This week’s show should help to answer some of the questions surrounding this controversy, but many of our readers may want to know more. Our medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay will be taking your questions on mammograms. Submit your questions below, and she will respond to many of them on Wednesday, October 6.
Update: A note from Laura LeBlanc, Need to Know’s health producer
Clearly our readers have lots of questions about mammograms. Some of you want to know if there’s a better way to screen for breast cancer, and many of you would love to have a less painful alternative (me too!). Others wonder if cancers caught early through routine mammograms are easier and more cost effective to treat. Dr. Senay addresses some of these questions in Five Things You Need to Know About Mammograms on tonight’s broadcast.
Some of you also have personal questions about your own unique medical situation. No one can diagnose you or make specific recommendations for mammogram screening for you online. Specific concerns like these are best discussed with your physician who knows your unique medical history. But Dr. Senay will address some of the broader questions you have regarding mammograms next week.
Many of you are worried that the radiation from a mammogram might be dangerous. I can tell you that according to the American Cancer Society, today’s mammography machines use a low dose of radiation – about the same amount of background radiation you are exposed to about every three months just from the world around you. The American Cancer Society says the radiation you would get from routine mammograms, even if you were to have them yearly from age 40 to age 90, would not significantly increase your risk of breast cancer. You can get more information about mammograms and other breast imaging procedures on their website.
Update (Oct. 6): Dr. Senay returned with answers to some of your questions — read them here.