• U.S. breast cancer cases to increase 50 percent by 2030: NCI report

    April 22, 2015

    by Lisa Chamoff , DOTmed contributing reporter

    Signs-of-Breast-CancerThe number of breast cancer cases in the U.S. will be 50 percent higher in 2030 than it was in 2011, with an estimated 441,000 cases in 15 years, according to new research by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

    The research, presented this week at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, shows a marked increase in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors in women older than 70. Part of the increase is due to the fact that women are living longer, and also due to screening technology that enables doctors to diagnose smaller, in situ tumors and invasive tumors, which are mostly detected via mammography.

    The forecast comes the same week that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force updated, but did not change, its breast cancer screening recommendations, which state that women age 50 to 74 should only be screened once every two years, while women in their 40s should discuss screening with their doctors. [Read More…]

  • USPSTF new breast screening recommendations ‘would result in thousands of breast cancer deaths’: ACR

    April 21, 2015

    by Lauren Dubinsky , Staff Writer

    Breast Cancer Word Cloud ConceptThe U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released the draft update for its breast cancer screening recommendations on Monday — but not much has changed from the 2009 recommendations. The recommendations state that women between ages 50 and 74 should only undergo routine biennial screening and women in their 40s should discuss with their physician whether they need screening.

    On the their website, the Task Force gives screening women ages 40 to 49 a “C” recommendation and wrote, “Women who place a higher value on the potential benefit than the potential harms may choose to begin screening between the ages of 40 and 49 years.” The Task Force gave screening women ages 50 to 74 a “B” recommendation. [Read More…]

  • Mammography: Are There Pros, or is It Just a Con?

    By Johnnie Ham, MD, MBA

    Original Article at Mercola.com

    Many women are completely unaware that the science backing the use of mammograms is sketchy at best. As was revealed in a 2011 meta-analysis by the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, mammography breast cancer screening led to 30 percent overdiagnosis and overtreatment, which equates to an absolute risk increase of 0.5 percent.

    There’s also the risk of getting a false negative, meaning that a life-threatening cancer is missed.

    Unfortunately, even though some high-profile people agree that mammography has limitations as well as dangers, others prefer to ignore the science and continue to campaign for annual screenings without so much as a hint at the risks involved.

    Now, they’ve unrolled “new and improved” 3D TOMOSYNTHESIS mammogram, which still requiring mechanical compression, and delivers 30 percent more radiation!

    In order to make better informed decisions, I provide my patients with all of their screening options, their strengths and weaknesses, and I reinforce that they have a right to utilize those options. Some of the options may include; self and clinical breast exams, thermography, ultrasound and/or MRI. My role as a doctor is to diagnose and treat, but I am also an educator. I want my patients’ focus to be on prevention to improve their health and well-being.

    The Industry of Cancer

    Breast cancer has become big business, starting with the multi-billion dollar goliath, mammography. No other medical screening has been as aggressively promoted. My passion is providing integrative primary care as an MD for hundreds of patients. I also have over 23 combined years of military experience as an OB/GYN, trauma surgeon, experimental test pilot, and master army aviator.

    My training prepared me to navigate through challenging, and sometimes life threatening situations. Unfortunately, most women do not have the training I received, yet they could certainly use some of it to help navigate through the fear based methods of the breast cancer industry.

    The tide of thought on mammography’s benefits is rapidly changing as evidenced by recently published studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine,1 the Lancet Review,2 the British Medical Journal3 and the Nordic Cochrane Center;4 and the fact that the US Preventative Services Task Force5 and the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care.6

    Why are Nearly All Health Care Professionals Not Following Current Mammogram Recommendations?

    Nearly every woman age 40 and older continues to be told by their primary care physician, their gynecologist, the media, self-proclaimed advocacy groups, and even their medical insurance carrier, “get your annual mammogram!” despite the fact that nearly every recent authoritative study concludes that women should know all of the facts before agreeing to a mammogram screening. Yet nearly all health care professionals insist on mammograms. If a woman dare refuse, she may be chastised or worse, threatened. These efforts have gone beyond persuasion to guilt and even coercion, “I can’t be your doctor if you don’t get a mammogram.” Women need to stop this runaway train, not only for their sake, but for the sake of their daughters.

    In November 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study by Dr Archie Bleyer, MD from The Oregon Health Sciences Center, and his co-author, Dr H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., M.P.H., from Dartmouth, challenging the validity of mammogram screenings and concluded that mammograms have little to no influence in the reduction of the number of women who ultimately die of breast cancer.7

    Thirty years of US government data studied found that as many as 1/3 of cancers detected by mammography may not have been life threatening, and that over 1 million women have been over-diagnosed; leading to unnecessary treatments involving disfiguring surgeries; radiation and chemotherapy. They also showed that mammogram screenings have increased from about 30 percent of women 40 and older in 1985, to about 70 percent of women screened, proving how effective we have been at convincing women they need to get a mammogram.

    I have witnessed this strategy for decades and I have seen the profound psychological effect it has had on many of my patients. This paradigm has seriously misled women regarding the actual effectiveness, and the benefits vs. potential dangers of mammograms. They also have women confused about the erroneous belief that mammography is their only tool. Some women actually believe mammograms can prevent cancer, or do not realize they have the right to say, no!

    Most women comply with the current “gold standard” in fear of the ravages of breast cancer, convinced their annual mammogram will save their life through early detection. It is nearly impossible for them to negate decades of slick marketing, annual reminders from radiology imaging centers and the exploitation of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month blitz. All of these efforts beautifully packaged, tied up with a pretty pink ribbon.

    I take my oath to do no harm very seriously. After many years of research, clinical practice; and due to my wife’s personal experience with mammography, I cannot in good conscience recommend mammograms. I inform my patients that mammograms are considered the current “gold standard”, but I also make certain they know the facts about the screening and that there are other screen tools available.

    Facts and Persisting Concerns: Mammograms

    More women are refusing mammograms. This is reflected in the dramatic decline of 4.3 percent in 2010. Previously, mammography use had increased annually by 1 percent between 2005 and 2009. Mammograms:

    1. Are incorrect 80 percent of the time (providing a false negative or false positive)
    2. Require repeated ionized radiation that can cause cancer
    3. Use compression, which can damage breast tissue or potentially spread cancer
    4. Are not effective for up to 50 percent of women (women with dense breasts or implants)
    5. Can lead to over-diagnosis and over-treatment of non-invasive cancers
    6. Can lead to the disturbing practice of “preventative” double mastectomies

    What is Mammography Industries Solution?

    The “new and improved” 3D TOMOSYNTHESIS mammogram, still requiring mechanical compression, and 30 percent more radiation! We know all levels of ionizing radiation can cause cancer but, astonishingly, radiologists still want you to have your traditional mammogram screening first, followed by tomosynthesis mammogram for those with dense breasts or an area of suspicion. When my local Radiology Community approached me in an effort to disprove my concerns, I posed one simple question: Can you show me, one well-designed study that proves screening mammography has improved ultimate survival rates? I am still waiting for their answer.

    We cannot prove that screening mammography improves the ultimate survival rate. A quick look at the SEER data would suggest treatment has improved, by a decline in the death rate since 1998 of 1.9 percent.8 For every 1,000 women in this country, today 125 will ultimately be diagnosed with breast cancer. Of those 125, over 40 will be over-diagnosed, and receive treatment they never needed, and suffer the potential psychological consequences of a cancer diagnosis. That leaves about 80, of which 28 will die of breast cancer. The decline since 1998 in the death rate means that for our 28 women who would have otherwise died from breast cancer, 2 more out of 1000 women diagnosed with breast cancer survived due to over a decade of treatment advances.

    But, we really don’t know what actually saved those 2 women, of the 125 diagnosed with breast cancer for every 1,000 women in our group. If we attribute anything to lifestyle changes we have emphasized recently (which has been shown repeatedly to work), then either we wipe out any improved survival rate from decades of treatment advances, or worse, we cause death to some of those 40 women who were over-diagnosed!

    If You Have Dense Breasts it is Even Worse

    Breast density laws have now been passed in California,9 Connecticut, New York, Virginia and Texas making it mandatory for radiologists to inform their patients, who have dense breast tissue (40 to 50 percent of women) that mammograms are basically useless for them. Dense breast tissue and cancer both appear white on an X-ray, making it nearly impossible for a radiologist to detect cancer in these women. It’s like trying to find a snowflake in a blizzard. A law is now being considered at a Federal level as well.

    Some radiologists already provide density information to their patients, and encourage them to utilize other options like thermography, ultrasound and/or MRI. I believe it reasonable for a woman to trust that her radiologist is not withholding vital density information. Unfortunately, many have kept this potentially lifesaving data from women for decades, and our government agencies have failed to protect them from this unethical practice.

    I know it is extremely difficult to navigate through all of the contradicting information and study findings. It would better serve women if efforts, money and resources were utilized on educating women on cancer prevention, being that 95 percent of disease is lifestyle related. Yet 40,000 women continue to die of breast cancer each year. The only way to reduce this number is through utilizing preventative therapies.

    Basic Cancer Prevention Strategies

    As mentioned above, many women are completely unaware that the science backing the use of mammograms is sorely lacking, and that more women are being harmed by regular mammograms than are saved by them. Many also do not realize that the “new and improved” 3D tomosynthesis mammogram actually delivers even MORE ionizing radiation than the older version. This is not a step forward…

    Please understand that there are other screening options, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and you have a right to utilize those options. Also remember that in order to truly avoid breast cancer, you need to focus your attention on prevention.

    A few simple, yet great options to assist in your efforts to avoid breast cancer are: making sure you are getting enough vitamin D, K2 and iodine; that you utilize lymphatic massage; use stress management techniques, exercise often, and balance your hormones naturally. It is also wise to eat a Mediterranean diet consisting of organic foods. Avoid processed and GMO foods; and toxic environments.

    In my practice, I recommend breast thermography, even for young women to get a baseline, but also combine the imaging not only with a review of the findings, but more importantly, as a venue to educate women on breast health. It is far more effective to prevent breast cancer, than it is to wait until it is there and then treat it. We are all different so make sure you consult with your doctor and do your own research before utilizing any of these suggestions.

    The advice I give all of my patients is to be your own health advocate, do your own research and always ask questions before agreeing to any therapy or treatment, screening and/or procedure.

    About the Author:

    Dr. Johnnie Ham, MD, former Lieutenant Colonel of the US Army Medical Corps, is the Medical Director of Coastal Prestige Medical Services, Pismo Beach, CA. Coastal Prestige Physicians offer top-notch comprehensive healthcare, with an emphasis on evidence-based primary care and preventive health for all ages.

  • Widely used CAD mammography tool fails to find invasive breast cancer, causes needless tests and stress

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 by: S. L. Baker, features writer

    Computer-aided detection (CAD) technology, which analyzes mammography images and marks suspicious areas for radiologists to review, has been widely hyped and pushed on women as a way to insure invasive breast cancer is spotted on mammograms. And it has grown into a huge industry, adding millions of dollars to the cost of healthcare.

    The problem is, CAD simply doesn’t work — at all. That’s right. Despite the fact CAD is now applied to the large majority of screening mammograms in the U.S. with annual direct Medicare costs exceeding $30 million (according to a 2010 study in the Journal of the American College of Radiology), new research by University of California at Davis (UC Davis) scientists shows the expensive technology is ineffective in finding breast tumors.

    But it does something extremely well. It causes enormous stress by greatly increasing a woman’s risk of being called back for more costly testing following a CAD analyzed mammogram.

    The new research, just published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, used data from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium to analyze 1.6 million mammograms. Entitled “Effectiveness of Computer-Aided Detection in Community Mammography Practice,” the study specifically looked at screening mammograms performed on more than 680,000 women at 90 mammography facilities in seven U.S. states, between the years of 1998 and 2006.

    The results are being hailed as the most definitive findings to date on whether the super popular mammography tool is effective in locating cancer in the breast. The findings? CAD is a waste of time and money.

    The false-positive rate increased from 8.1 percent before CAD to 8.6 percent after CAD was installed at the medical centers in the study. What’s more, the detection rate of breast cancer and the stage and size of breast cancer tumors were similar regardless of whether or not CAD was used.

    “In real-world practice, CAD increases the chances of being unnecessarily called back for further testing because of false-positive results without clear benefits to women,” Joshua Fenton, assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Family and Community Medicine, said in a statement to the media. “Breast cancers were detected at a similar stage and size regardless of whether or not radiologists used CAD.”

    This isn’t the first time the CAD technology has been questioned by researchers. The current study follows a previous study of the computer aided mammography tool that was published by Dr. Fenton in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007.

    That examination of mammography screening results in 43 facilities, including seven that used CAD, found that CAD was actually linked to reduced accuracy of mammogram screenings and produced no difference in the detection rate of invasive breast cancer.

    “In the current study, we evaluated newer technology in a larger sample and
    over a longer time period,” Fenton noted in a statement to the press. “We also looked for the first time at cancer stage and cancer size, which are critical for understanding how CAD may affect long-term breast cancer outcomes, such as mortality.”

    CAD software was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration back in 1998, but its use only skyrocketed after Medicare began covering it in 2001. According to 2009 Medicare data, using CAD adds another $12 to the costs of having a mammogram (about $81 for film mammography and $130 for digital mammography), representing a 9 percent to 15 percent additional cost for CAD use.

  • Barred From Breast Screening

    Under 50 … Younger women are missing out on breast screens. Source: The Sunday Telegraph

    ALMOST a quarter of breast cancers diagnosed in Australia occur in females under 50, so why is the Government recommending screening for older women only?

    Sitting in a drawer of a Canberra office is a report recommending significant changes to Australia’s breast-screening program.

    It’s been there since last June. It says the government should lower its target age range for routine mammograms from 50 to 45, and extend it at the other end of the age range, from 69 to 75.

    Such changes would have done little to help the likes of the late Jane McGrath. The wife of former fast bowler Glenn was only 31 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died in 2008. [Read More…]

  • Christine O’Gorman Suffers Misdiagnosis at BreastScreen

    Cruel treatment … Cancer sufferer Chrsitine O’Gorman with her partner, Glen Fitzpatrick. Picture: Stephen Cooper Source: The Daily Telegraph

    CHRISTINE O’Gorman was lying in bed reading when she scratched an itch in her left breast and felt a lump “as hard as concrete”.

    For the 57-year-old single mum, the subsequent diagnosis last year of a cancerous tumour was at odds with every mammogram result she had ever received – and she had been diligently having her breasts screened every two years since 1994.

    Like thousands of women aged between 50 and 69, O’Gorman visited a government-funded BreastScreen clinic to have her mammograms. It was convenient, free of charge and she was able to fit a visit in during her lunch hour.

    To her immense relief, after every mammogram examination O’Gorman received a letter from BreastScreen stating “there was no visible evidence of breast cancer”.

    Shockingly, it now emerges that there was visible evidence. Those reassuring letters from BreastScreen turn out not to be worth the paper they were written on. [Read More…]

  • “Mammography Saves Lives” questioned by CANSA and UK and USA authorities.

    The USA website of Curves Health Clubs for women claims over 4 million members worldwide.  So it is has considerable outreach to women. But it is an exercise club.

    So it is disturbing when it engages in  highly controversial promotion of screening xray mammography of all asymptomatic older well women not at increased risk, the safety and utility of which has been increasingly questioned the past two decades.  Read complete story.

  • Concerns About Recommending Routine Screening Mammograms for Women Age 40 to 49

    By Jacquelyn Paykel and William H. Wolberg 

    The controversy concerning the usefulness of screening mammography in younger-than-50 women continues. In general, two factors are consistently overlooked that should bear heavily on screening recommendations, particularly as they pertain to national policy. First, understanding why screening is more beneficial after as opposed to before age 50; second, assessing the societal cost of routine screening in younger women. 

    Pivotal to this discussion – and unavailable from any of the current studies – is the menopausal status of the patients being screened. Biological age is more important than is chronological age. At the time of menopause, the ovaries cease to produce estrogen. Lacking bodily estrogen, the breast glandular tissue involutes, and cancerous nodules become more apparent by mammogram. Therefore, screening is going to be as advantageous to a woman who is postmenopausal at age 48 as it is to a woman at age 55 or older. The reported screening studies have been conveniently designed based on the subjects’ date of birth (age), rather than on the appropriate standard which is the menopausal status of the subject. Furthermore, women who started to receive mammograms before age 50 continued to receive them after their fiftieth birthday. Not only was the menopausal status ignored, but any beneficial effect of screening before 50 could not be distinguished from that occurring after 50. 

    Some otherwise undetectable cancers are found by mammography in younger-than-50 women. Women in this age group who have been mammographically diagnosed become strong advocates for screening. However, the radiation given with mammograms undoubtedly causes some cancers particularly in younger women when the breast is under estrogen stimulation. What is unclear is whether mammograms result in curing more cancers than they cause in this age group. The available data indicate that there is a close trade off.  [Read More…]

  • William Li: Can We Eat To Starve Cancer