Mammograms vs. ultrasound
A look at the most effective breast cancer tests
- Duration 5:27
- Date May 2, 2012
A look at the most effective breast cancer tests
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The debate over breast cancer screening.
Are mammograms really the best way to detect a lump or is ultrasound a better screening method and at what age should a woman start getting tested.
We hear many different opinions on these subjects.
Let's ask our -- now experts doctor Otis Brawley chief medical officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society.
And doctor Daniel -- France for professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and he's a senior radiologist.
At mass general hospital gentlemen good to have about.
Thank you for I -- the doctor rally -- the start with you because nurses perhaps one of the most counter views that we hear and that's that.
Maybe the mammogram isn't all it's cracked up to -- -- Well first off my Mark Murphy definitely saves lives of women in their forties ought to get -- good.
High quality mammograms and clinical breast exam every year so.
That's very important people understand that however.
Very often people will love.
Talk about tomography.
And downplay everything else breast awareness women finding a mass in the shower while getting dress that saves just as many lives as tomography.
Both save lives less stressful.
Let's not overstressed tomography.
And drown out the message about breast aware.
The doctor co pay and you push back pretty hard on those points -- could you say women don't they should not be confused and get misinformation.
What do you mean.
Well I I think the major misinformation has been the use of the age of fifty is a threshold for screening.
I think doctor rally and I completely agree.
That the scientific evidence shows there's no biological or scientific reason to use age fifty is a threshold for breast cancer screening.
The data -- support beginning screening at age forty and all the major medical organizations not just the American Cancer Society.
The American College of Radiology believe in the US preventive services task force agree that saving lives begins at 840.
That's -- I think we also agree that mammography screening is the best way.
To find breast cancer earlier I think if you start -- is a population.
Where breast cancers are very large before there's any screening.
And women get a clinical breast exam and even self examination.
That will save some lives.
And but adding -- -- of the to the mix is really what pushes the death rate down.
We're in complete agreement that women should be very.
We -- of their breasts.
I personally support breast self examination as well.
-- mammography screening is the only test that's been proven and the most rigorous scientific studies to actually reduce the death rate in the death rate has come down.
Since -- -- screening Begin -- in the nineteen.
And and doctor Brawley maybe that is where the split is -- I think women are listening closely to see okay so it is age forty but but I've read -- that you say.
Some woman may be able to opt out until they are fifty maybe we can move that date forward.
What types of things need to be present for that to happen in your opinion.
There's some science it's being developed and it's not ready for prime time perhaps five years from now.
We may have a profiled women in their forties who do not need to get tomography and women in their forties and definitely -- screen name.
Pardon the problem will be.
-- -- has tremendous limitations and we actually need to push the edge.
Our technology developed new techniques for screening in women but we may actually be able we'll figure out.
Who in their forties we really ought to focus on because those -- women whose lives need to be -- And who in their forties actually might be able to go until fifty or perhaps even later because it's such low risk and breast cancer.
Not to put too fine a point on it because I wanna encourage people to be healthy but but as a woman I can tell you.
Doctors call it uncomfortable it it can be more than I'm comfortable so what are the limitations of mammograms just making it.
More palatable for women to get doctor Coke cans are you are there any thoughts that you have on that part of the equation.
I mean I I completely agree that mammography is no fun and for what it.
It's worth I've actually been in the machine myself it's it's no fun but.
We're talking about dying from breast cancer and I think most women at least the women that I talk to.
Are willing to put up with the some discomfort for a few seconds.
To potentially save their lives I think doctor Brawley is completely.
Correct we are pushing to try and find additional ways to find more breast cancer earlier.
The problem is we're still fighting this argument about -- screening.
And when it should Begin I think we should put that to rest of the women knew what was going on behind the scenes to limit their access to mammography they'd be outraged.
So I think we should agree.
-- women should be encouraged to Begin tomography screening at age forty.
And then let those of us and my group certainly has been involved in developing new technologies.
To try and find more breast cancers earlier.
Mammography is the proven method at this point I think I hope doctor Brawley is correct that someday we'll be able to identify.
Who is at risk and who is most certainly but right now all women are.
There's -- there a lot of women out there who'd like to skip the process of finding a lengthening going through so many tests to figure out that it wasn't cancers that there's a way to.
Kind of weed them out early in the process that would be a good thing to both doctors we appreciate you being here.
Autumn we'll bring you back as the technology moves forward thank you very much.