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Study Disputes Value of Routine Mammograms



Buffalo, NY (WBEN/AP) - A Canadian study that many experts say has major flaws has revived a debate about the value of mammograms.
  
The study suggests that these screening X-rays do not lower the risk of dying of breast cancer while finding many tumors that do not need treatment.
  
However, Dr. Ermelinda Bonaccio, the Director of Breast Imaging at Roswell Park, says the study isn't credible. "My impressions of the study is that it's deeply flawed, and it has been known to be deeply flawed," Bonaccio said. "It should not be used to determine healthcare policy and recommendations regarding screening for women over the age of 40."

Critics say the Canadians used outdated equipment and methods that made mammograms look unfairly ineffective.

"It is important to keep in mind that mammography is not a perfect test, we don't find all breast cancers, and obviously we don't save all women's lives with mammography, but it is the best test that we have right now. I would be very concerned if any kind of policy is determined on this particular trial."

The study gives longer follow-up on nearly 90,000 women who were given either a breast exam by a nurse to check for lumps plus a mammogram or the breast exam alone.
  
After more than two decades of follow-up, death rates were similar in the two groups, suggesting little impact from mammograms.
    
The study was published Wednesday in the British journal BMJ.

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