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Mixed recommendations reflect lack of consensus on breast cancer screening

March 10, 2014

A study with a 25-year follow-up from Canada was published in the British Medical Journal that compared women who received an annual mammogram with women who had been instructed in breast self-exams, and showed that women who underwent the mammograms were no more likely to survive a breast cancer diagnosis. Studies also have proved unsettling in part because they raise the possibility that the cause of illness was a false positive diagnosis and the treatment that followed. "Doctors are just as prone to those (errors) as well," said Dr. David Gorski, chief of the division of breast surgery at Wayne State University and managing editor of Science-Based Medicine, a blog covering medical issues and controversies. "We feel good (if) we find the tumor early; we think we saved a life. Maybe we did, but we don't know for sure."