A New York Times article this week on a debate over the value of mammography in the U.K. includes statements about breast screening that are incorrect or greatly exaggerated, according to the American College of Radiology (ACR) of Reston, VA.
In a March 31 story, Roni Caryn Rabin of the New York Times wrote that "the conventional wisdom about breast cancer screening is coming under sharp attack in Britain, and health officials there are taking notice ... after advocates and experts complained in a letter to The Times of London that none of [patient informational mammography] handouts 'come close to telling the truth' -- overstating the benefits of screening and leaving out critical information about the harms."
The story ignores the positive role that mammography has had in reducing the incidence of breast cancer, according to Dr. Carol Lee, chair of ACR's Breast Imaging Commission, who wrote a letter to the paper countering statements in the story.
"All medical tests can result in false positives or false negatives. The question is, does mammography save lives? The answer is a resounding Yes," Lee wrote. "Scientific evidence clearly shows that in the United States, the death rate from breast cancer, unchanged for the 50 years prior to 1990, is down nearly 30% since 1990, primarily due to mammography screening."
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