Demystifying the Mammography Discussion

DEBRA MONTICCIOLO MD FACRThis post was contributed by Debra Monticciolo, MD, FACR, former chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Breast Imaging Commission.

I recently authored an editorial titled “Demystifying the Mammography Discussion.” I am glad that many people nationwide have read it, but also sad that it had to be written.

Some, who are not experts in breast cancer care, have been allowed to misuse (or exaggerate) terms like “overdiagnosis” and “false positive” to confuse women and their doctors about when – or even if – women should get a mammogram.

This misinformation and resulting confusion has even caused some organizations to soften their recommendations that women get tested starting at 40 – even though medical professionals know that moving away from this approach could lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths each year.

This has to stop.MSL Infographic Hi Rez

As radiologists, we have to demystify the mammography discussion for women and their providers by replacing this confusion with facts. The ACR and Society of Breast Imaging have created tools to help us do that.

The Mammography Saves Lives website has been updated with downloadable videos and other resources to help us explain the benefits and risks of mammography, what overdiagnosis is (and isn’t), why “false positive” is a misnomer,  (and overblown), and the impact of breast density on mammography effectiveness.

During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the nation’s eyes are focused on this terrible disease. There is no better time for us to step up, use the ACR/SBI resources and demystify the mammography discussion. Our patients’ lives may depend on it.

  • What are some things that you or your practice are doing in your communities to educate women and their providers on the importance of getting annual mammograms starting at age 40?

Please provide your thoughts the comments section below or on the Engage discussion board (login required).




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