How Effective Are Mammograms?

Mammograms have long been touted as a life-saving preventive test. But recently, people have been re-examining the relative harms and benefits of mammography. This re-examination became quite earnest when the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended against beginning routine mammography before age 50. Even at later ages, experts are beginning to more thoroughly recognize that the benefits of mammography compete against some very serious harms. Consider the following picture, produced by the website 538, summarizing how mammography influences women at various ages:

MammogramsIn short – not a whole lot of lives saved, but a lot of non-cancers cured, even more non-cancers biopsied, and a whole slew of anxiety-inducing false alarms.

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