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Mammogram need questioned.

New analyses of data from around the world have failed to show that women under age 50 benefit from mammograms, confirming a Canadian study published late last year.

The new data, reported at a two-day meeting of experts on mammography sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, add fuel to a growing debate over whether the cancer institute and the American Cancer Society should change their guidelines recommending that women in their late 40s have mammograms every one to two years to detect cancers before they are big enough to feel.

Both groups' guidelines were issued a decade ago and were based on inferences rather than hard data. Last fall, they were thrown into doubt by results from a large Canadian study that many experts had expected would prove that younger women live longer if they have mammograms.

Instead, the study found that the women in their 40s who had mammograms had the same death rate from breast cancer as those who did not have the screening. But all the studies found a substantial benefit in mammograms for women 50 and over. The theory is that younger women have denser breasts, making mammograms more difficult to read.

Medical experts had hoped that other studies, or perhaps an analysis that combined data from all the world's large studies, would justify the guidelines recommending regular screenings for younger women. Instead, with the new data reported in February 1993, that hope was dashed.

Doctors and consumer advocates at the meeting urged that women be presented with all conflicting information about mammograms and they make their own best decisions. Mammograms cost $50 to $150.
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Title Annotation:is there a benefit for women under 50?
Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Jun 22, 1993
Words:269
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