THE TRUTH ABOUT MAMMOGRAMS
An expert sets the record straight.
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To make matters more complicated, a new study suggests self-exams may be just as good for longevity. Danish and Norwegian researchers looked at data on women between ages 30 and 89 with breast cancer and found that from 1987 to 2010, fewer women were dying from the disease after being diagnosed—regardless of whether they had mammograms or not.
Second, manual exams from your doctor can only tell you so much. “I can miss half to two-thirds of the breast depending on its size,” she says. Mammograms are the only way to catch small tumors or those that are limited to the ducts. Plus, the large age range in the new study makes the results unreliable, she adds, because women under 40 are more likely to get aggressive cancers while those 70 and over are more likely to die from other health factors.