Regular visitors to my blog will be well aware of my view that women in the UK are being mis-sold peace of mind by the cancer industry when it comes to screening for breast cancer.
In the age-old battle against cancer, mammography was, for a while, rightly regarded as the most effective method of identifying cancer in the breast. But research and technology move on quickly and for some time now there have been other options that provide an earlier and more accurate indication of cancer risk.
The simple fact is that a mammogram, even at 100% accuracy, can only ever tell you that you already have the disease. It’s not in any way preventative. And it’s not 100% accurate, either.
In fact, there is now strong evidence to suggest that the majority of women would have a lower risk of cancer if they didn’t attend mammography screening.
This was the conclusion of a significant piece of research called
In my last blog, I urged women to read the Cochrane report and its updated summary of the findings.
In short, what the report makes clear is that for every 2000 women who undergo mammography regularly for ten years, only one death will be prevented whilst ten otherwise healthy women will become cancer patients as a direct result of the mammography screening method.
Put another way, the law of averages suggests you have a greater chance of remaining healthy if you don’t undergo a regular mammogram.
The truly frightening thing about the report is that very few women are told research exists to suggest that regular mammography – peddled by the cancer industry as something of a silver bullet in the war on breast cancer – can actually cause the very disease you’re trying to protect yourself from.
As I’ve said before, other countries are already in the process of reviewing whether mammography has a place in modern cancer care. Switzerland has already discontinued its use as a screening tool.
Whatever the NHS, cancer charities and pharma industry might say to the contrary, the benefits of mammography are in serious doubt and several pieces of global research raise enough questions and concerns to warrant a wholesale review of its use in the UK.
Accuracy issues are the biggest drawback in mammography. At an average of 60% accuracy, it returns a high number of false-positive and false negative results – essentially the diagnosis of a non-existent tumour which leads to unnecessary intervention and treatment; or, the failure to identify a tumour that does exist, which can have terminal consequences if the cancer isn’t located at a later date.
There is now an imperative to ensure women are properly informed about the options they have in cancer prevention and diagnosis. It’s simply not good enough to only afford a screening process of questionable efficacy when other processes exist that can offer more accurate and earlier benefit.
It is a non-invasive, computer-assisted method of screening that measures abnormalities in breast tissue temperature to identify cancer risk up to ten years before an accurate mammogram can detect a tumour. To put it in simple terms a Thermogram can detect an abnormal breast physiology or a breast under stress as distinct from a mammogram which detects an already well established tumour.
It is up to 95% accurate and suitable for women who would not, under normal circumstances, be offered a mammogram but who are nevertheless at a degree of risk.
Importantly, its primary benefit is in creating the opportunity to make lifestyle changes that can prevent the disease from developing at all.
The health service, charities and other related care organisations have a public and moral duty to take their heads out of the sand and proactively ensure that every adult woman in the UK has access to information and resources, like the Cochrane piece referred to above, to make an informed choice about prevention.
And they need to do it right now.