A Better Mammogram? Large Study Putting 3-D Scans To The Test
WASHINGTON (CBS News) — A better mammogram? Increasingly women are asked if they want ainstead of the regular X-ray — and now U.S. health officials are starting a huge study to tell if the newer, sometimes pricier choice really improves screening for breast cancer.
It’s the latest dilemma in a field that already vexes women with conflicting guidelines on when to get checked: Starting at age 40, 45 or 50? Annually or every other year?
The issue:can save lives if they catch aggressive breast cancers early. But they also can harm through frequent false alarms and by spotting tumors that grow so slowly they never would have posed a threat — overdiagnosis that means some women undergo unneeded treatment.
That trade-off is a key question as doctors begin recruiting 165,000 women nationally to compare potentially more beneficial 3-D mammograms — known scientifically as “tomosynthesis” — with standard two-dimensional digital mammography.
The 3-D mammograms have been marketed as being able to find more cancers.
“But the idea isn’t so much finding more cancers as finding the cancers that are going to be life-threatening,” said Dr. Worta McCaskill-Stevens of the National Cancer Institute, which is funding the new research to tell whether the 3-D scans truly pinpoint the tumors that matter most.
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