Tuesday, November 3, 2015


This material originated with NEJM a week before Guardian picked it up from UP.  

Mammograms not catching worst cancers before they spread – US Study

Rate of aggressive breast cancers that have already moved to other parts of the body has not fallen in decades despite screening programmes, study finds

 I had trouble with this article.  Spent a lot of time going over this again and again.  Gave me more questions than answers, of course. But  a quote or group announcement from the three leading MD  study authors  tells us the crux:

“ 'Screening offers hope that cancer can be detected in an early, localised phase when it’s more amenable to treatment,' ” they write, 'but that assumes cancer starts in one place, grows and then spreads. If that was always true screening would reduce the rate of advanced cancers,' " they argue.   

So mammograms are not enough!  Not designed to find the breast cancer that may move to other organs almost as soon as it starts.

 And in that case, the problem is we don't look in other parts of the body simultaneously?  Is that why I've ended up in the ultrasound lab twice? (And even the ultrasound was really working only on the breast.) And tomo,  being just more pix of the breast, does not make a big difference to survival?

I'm going back to my earlier October post on  NIH material - "not a death sentence" : This from study author Steven Narod:

" 'In all, 956 women in the study ultimately died of breast cancer. Of those, 517 never had invasive cancer in the breast after treatment seemed to cure their DCIS. That means that the cancerous breast cells from their DCIS had escaped at some point and survived in the lungs or bone, later developing into a deadly cancer,' Narod explained."   (highlighting is mine) "Seemed to cure."  Pretty damn scary!  So the NEJM study wasn't hot news... 

So these women were living a death sentence they didn't know they had.

What else should we be doing on mammo day?  Is there some kind of blood work that would give us more clues?

Who is researching this to give us a better deal?  Anybody?

And this article had to come out while I'm planning a second-year post treatment "diagnostic" mammo.

I wish you health.

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