Too much or too little?
That is a central question often debated when it comes to considerations surrounding breast cancer, particularly the misdiagnosis of breast cancer.
The query is squarely focused upon routine diagnostic testing, which primarily means scheduled mammograms for women. In recent years, that seemingly uncontroversial practice has become the focal point for lively discussion and disparate views concerning whether such “defensive medicine” is in many instances more harmful that it is helpful.
That is the view as espoused by a number of medical researchers and professional publications. The New England Journal of Medicine is quite representative for its take on mammograms. The journal recently published an article citing the results from a just-concluded study indicating that breast cancer screenings often result in further unnecessary tests and treatments. That owes to the “false positives” sometimes uncovered by mammograms, which many times lead to misdiagnosis and inappropriate drugs or surgery.
Thus, the journal and many other medical groups argue that the timing and frequency of mammograms — especially the recommendation that women over 40 undergo a screening every two years — be revisited.
Having said that, there is some evidence suggesting that Hispanic women constitute a specific demographic that avails itself of diagnostic screening for breast cancer too infrequently. Breast cancer is the cancer most seen in Hispanic women, and some health experts say that a number of interrelated factors that preclude screenings at a comparatively high rate for Hispanic females might be contributing to that.
Thus, and at least for some health care experts, the debate over mammograms needs an added asterisk to denote that specific guidelines should be considered for Hispanic women.
Source: Huffington Post, “Breast cancer preventive care among Hispanic women is often overlooked,” Hope Gillette, Dec. 20, 2012
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