A Bird’s Eye View: Why We (You) Need to Stay Vigilant

This post is contributed by Debra Monticciolo, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission.


Debra Monticciolo, MD


It’s no secret that mammography critics have gone to great lengths to discredit breast cancer screening and the radiologists that do it. Now, things have just gotten strange. Believe it or not, a study was published this week in PLOS One (a medical journal) claiming that pigeons (yes, you read that right) are “good” at identifying micro-calcifications in select mammography images.

The study was designed to see if the birds’ “training,” and optical movements, could help improve breast imaging training (apparently, humans and pigeons have similar optical systems). Although this is very basic science using an animal model and is far removed from reality, it makes a great news headline: “Pigeons ‘as good as humans’ at spotting cancer.” This can only add to a growing radiology “commoditization” perception.

Some sectors of the “medical sphere” it seems take any (and I mean any) opportunity try to minimize radiology and radiologists. This is why the American College of Radiology (ACR) is so important, why all of us need to pay attention to the issues facing our profession (even when ludicrous), and why we need to take advantage of the resources and information the College provides.

In the coming months, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is expected announce its final breast cancer screening recommendations. The ACR, with the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) will keep members apprised of any developments there. However, there are a number of issues that the ACR is dealing with at any point in time, that the College wants members to know about and when appropriate to take action on.

Aside from reading this blog, I invite all radiology professionals to read the ACR Daily News Scan each morning and stay tuned to the ACR website and ACR social media. I also strongly urge you to open and read ACR Advocacy in Action e-news — which arrives to your inbox each Friday.

It’s now more important than ever that we all know as much as we can about the forces and trends affecting our practices and our futures. Not everything is as easy to see coming as “pigeons reading mammograms,” but rest assured ACR takes a bird’s eye view.

Please use the comment section below to list any other instances where you have seen attempts to minimize radiology (they don’t have to be this absurd).

One thought on “A Bird’s Eye View: Why We (You) Need to Stay Vigilant

  1. Minimizing breast cancer screening/mammography will lead to many lives lost as well as countless dollars spent. My mother was just this week diagnosed with Stage 1 IDC from a ROUTINE mammogram (and subsequent, mag views, U/S and biopsy) – hopefully a cure will be in her future, but imagine how much more her tumor would have grown had she not been religious about getting her screenings mammos!

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