SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Breast Cancer Action (BCAction), the watchdog of the breast cancer movement whose mission is to achieve health justice for all women at risk or and living with breast cancer, has released “Should I Get A Mammogram?” Understanding the Harms and Benefits of Routine Breast Cancer Screening.” This balanced discussion of screening is the first of its kind and fills an urgent and unmet need in women’s health.
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month is just around the corner, which means most mainstream cancer groups are gearing up to encourage women to get a mammogram,” said Breast Cancer Action’s executive director Karuna Jaggar. “And yet very few, if any, of these organizations will address the limits and harms of the procedure. That’s a huge disservice to women who are trying to make informed decisions about their health, and we address it with this brochure.”
Breast Cancer Action’s screening brochure provides information about breast cancer screening for women of average risk who don’t have a family history of breast cancer, have not been diagnosed with breast cancer, and have no other known risk factors.
Jaggar said, “I hear from too many women who find themselves in the impossible situation of having to weigh conflicting recommendations about mammograms. We all deserve better. This brochure reviews the evidence in a balanced way that supports every woman’s informed decision-making”
BCAction’s strict conflict of interest policy means that all of their educational materials and advocacy are free of any industry influence. Within hours of its release, the patient-centered brochure received immediate and widespread recognition for translating the science and getting much-needed information into the hands of women who need it. Two prominent and respected journalists praised it for being a “plain-spoken” analysis “that walks [women] through the evidence.”
“More mammography screening won’t reduce the unacceptable disparities in breast cancer deaths,” stated Jaggar. “In California alone, Black women have higher rates of mammography screening than white women yet are more likely to die of the disease. The evidence is clear. The best way to prevent death is to provide high-quality, evidence-based healthcare and treatment, delivered in a timely and culturally sensitive way.”
According to the Swiss Medical Board commentary published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, 21.9% of breast cancers found via mammography screening represented over-diagnosis. This means that one in five women who was told she had breast cancer after mammography screening received unnecessary treatment. The implication of these results is that tens of thousands of women in the U.S. each year undergo surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for non-life threatening cancers.
“Should I Get A Mammogram? Understanding the Harms and Benefits of Routine Breast Cancer Screening” is available online at www.bcaction.org/screeningbrochure
Breast Cancer Action (www.bcaction.org) is a national non-profit education and advocacy organization that avoids conflicts of interest by refusing funding from the “cancer industry,” including pharmaceutical and chemical companies, enabling them to retain an independent voice and offer truly unbiased information about breast cancer.