We're Still Getting Mammograms Despite All the Haters

Illustration for article titled We're Still Getting Mammograms Despite All the Haters

Back in 2009, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force controversially recommended that women from the ages of 40 to 49 stop getting routine mammograms on the basis of too many false positives, the needless incurring of stress and anxiety, and generally wasteful hospital costs thanks to unnecessary tests and biopsies. Nobody is listening. And I kind of feel like, good for them.


Findings published yesterday in the journal Cancer (which immediately gave me the image of an old-school locked diary with "Cancer" written on it in Monotype Corsiva), reports that mammogram rates haven't gone down in any female age demographic. Or, in layman's terms, everyone is like, "Go suck an egg, task force."

28,000 women were surveyed in 2005, 2008 and 2011 about their mammogram rates, and it was discovered they actually increased slightly—from 51.9 to 53.6 percent—between 2008 and 2011. From HuffPo:

"These recommendations — which are recommendations from one of the most prominent national bodies out there —have not been widely adopted," [said] study author Dr. Lydia Pace, a global women's health fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. "We have not seen the decrease you would expect if these recommendations had been widely adopted."

Researchers think that it may have to do with doctors not taking the time to inform women of the potential drawbacks. Dr. Linda Harrison of Diagnostic Imaging has a more pragmatic opinion. “I think most people are going to take that trade-off and say it’s worth it to me to find a potential cancer early." Yep, that sounds right.

It also may have to do with the conflicting recommendations from the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which both continue to recommend yearly mammograms from age 40 on. How about this for a theory: Above all else, breast cancer still scares the living fuckballs out of everyone.

'Young Women Rejecting Mammogram Guidelines, New Rates Suggest' [HuffPo]
'Recommendation didn’t deter women from getting mammograms' [Fox4 News]

Image via Ivelin Radkov/Shutterstock


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Well the problem is that mammograms use x-rays, which are a type of ionizing radiation, which can cause... cancer. So it's not necessarily a good thing that people are ignoring the recommendations, even without factoring in the added cost from over-testing.