23 doctors weighed in:

Is there any proof that radiation from mammograms can cause breast cancer? Is there any legitimate alternative to screen for breast cancer?

23 doctors weighed in
Dr. Barry Rosen
Surgery
12 doctors agree

In brief: MammogramsSAVELives

The radiation exposure of a digital mammogram is 3.
7mgy. This is associated with a lifetime-attributable risk of breast cancer of 1.3 cases per 100, 000. Mammography is a safe, proven technique for finding cancers well before they are palpable and there is no controversy about its use after age 50. Thermograms are 25% as sensitive as mammograms and not suitable for screening.

In brief: MammogramsSAVELives

The radiation exposure of a digital mammogram is 3.
7mgy. This is associated with a lifetime-attributable risk of breast cancer of 1.3 cases per 100, 000. Mammography is a safe, proven technique for finding cancers well before they are palpable and there is no controversy about its use after age 50. Thermograms are 25% as sensitive as mammograms and not suitable for screening.
Dr. Barry Rosen
Dr. Barry Rosen
Thank
1 comment
Dr. Randy Baker
It is incorrect to say that mammography is a "safe, proven technique" and there is "no controversy." The best available evidence from recent large-scale studies is that there is "no reduction in breast cancer mortality from mammography screening" and that it results in many unnecessary procedures and expenses. See http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/12/us-mammograms-idUSBREA1B1RJ20140212
Dr. Luis Villaplana
Internal Medicine
5 doctors agree

In brief: NO

There is some other technologies like breast MRI and ultrasound but the gold standard test is mammography.

In brief: NO

There is some other technologies like breast MRI and ultrasound but the gold standard test is mammography.
Dr. Luis Villaplana
Dr. Luis Villaplana
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Dr. Christian Schultheis
Internal Medicine - Hematology & Oncology
4 doctors agree

In brief: Minuscule risk

There was a trial done in high risk women at the national cancer institute.
It took young women and randomized them to yearly mammograms starting at age 30 or one at 30, 35, and then yearly at 40. Those that had yearly mammograms starting at 30 had a higher risk. Now this was prior to digital mammograms (which have less radiation). Hence, the risk is very small and benefits outweigh the risks.

In brief: Minuscule risk

There was a trial done in high risk women at the national cancer institute.
It took young women and randomized them to yearly mammograms starting at age 30 or one at 30, 35, and then yearly at 40. Those that had yearly mammograms starting at 30 had a higher risk. Now this was prior to digital mammograms (which have less radiation). Hence, the risk is very small and benefits outweigh the risks.
Dr. Christian Schultheis
Dr. Christian Schultheis
Thank
1 comment
Dr. Randy Baker
There is no sound evidence that the benefits of mammography outweigh the risks. The best available evidence from recent large-scale studies is that there is "no reduction in breast cancer mortality from mammography screening" and that it results in many unnecessary procedures and expenses. See http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/12/us-mammograms-idUSBREA1B1RJ20140212
Dr. Randy Baker
Holistic Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: YES and YES

There is no doubt that mammograms can cause breast cancer but we are not sure how often; conservative estimates say about 1 in 1000 will get cancer from mammograms while others say they can increase risk up to 20% & nobel prize winner john gofman believes up to half of cancers are caused by x-rays! thermography is one alternative.
See my comment for links & further discussion of a complex issue.

In brief: YES and YES

There is no doubt that mammograms can cause breast cancer but we are not sure how often; conservative estimates say about 1 in 1000 will get cancer from mammograms while others say they can increase risk up to 20% & nobel prize winner john gofman believes up to half of cancers are caused by x-rays! thermography is one alternative.
See my comment for links & further discussion of a complex issue.
Dr. Randy Baker
Dr. Randy Baker
Thank
5 comments
Dr. Randy Baker
There is also controversy as to what degree if any mammograms save lives (a thorough literature review concluded mammograms reduce breast cancer mortality by 0.05%-see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast_cancer_screening. For more info on the risks of mammograms see www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=1420 As to legitimate alternatives, self-exam/physical exam is still one of the most common means breast cancer is discovered but does not seem to save lives. Thermograms are somewhat controversial but are extremely safe and can often detect a breast cancer literally years before it will show up on a mammogram. MRI's and Ultrasound are safe and sensitive but not routinely used for various reasons, including cost. Given the lack of evidence that mammograms really save lives, their high incidence of false positives and false negatives, and their potential to cause cancer, I recommend thermography as a primary screening tool. If there is anything suspicious on a thermogram, then mammograms, MRI's and ultrasounds can be done for further evaluation. See http://www.breastthermography.com/mammography_thermography.htm
Dr. Barry Rosen
While I respect Dr. Baker's opinion, I do not agree with his statistics. The lifetime attributable risk of breast cancer associated with a mammogram is 1.3 cases per 100,000. Furthermore, while thermograms can find SOME breast cancers, mammograms are 4x more sensitive than thermograms, so many, many breast cancers that would have been found on mammography would be missed by thermography
Dr. Peter Nefcy
Radiology
1 doctor agrees

In brief: No. Yes.

There is still no definite proof that mammograms cause breast cancer.
The concern for increasing cancers is based on projections from data originally obtained from the atomic bomb results in Japan in 1945. But everyone should be cautious and conservative when it comes to possibly causing cancer. The alternatives for mammograms include MRI and Ultrasound. Discuss options with your Doctor.

In brief: No. Yes.

There is still no definite proof that mammograms cause breast cancer.
The concern for increasing cancers is based on projections from data originally obtained from the atomic bomb results in Japan in 1945. But everyone should be cautious and conservative when it comes to possibly causing cancer. The alternatives for mammograms include MRI and Ultrasound. Discuss options with your Doctor.
Dr. Peter Nefcy
Dr. Peter Nefcy
Thank
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Pathology
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Do self-exam also

There's still disagreement about the value of mamography in the scientific community, but it centers on the cost and problems of false-positives rather than causing cancer.
Back when i was in med school, i was the only person who took a few minutes with each women to discuss and teach breast self-exam. I'm skeptical about the more recent studies that question its value since it's often done poorly.

In brief: Do self-exam also

There's still disagreement about the value of mamography in the scientific community, but it centers on the cost and problems of false-positives rather than causing cancer.
Back when i was in med school, i was the only person who took a few minutes with each women to discuss and teach breast self-exam. I'm skeptical about the more recent studies that question its value since it's often done poorly.
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Thank
Dr. Michael Gabor
Diagnostic Radiology

In brief: There is no

proof that mammograms cause cancer.
Risk calculations are based on data extrapolated from radiation induced cancers from much higher doses. See xrayrisk.com for risk calculations. Currently mammography is the standard of care for screening: the consensus is that the benefits far outweigh the minimal theoretical risks. The alternatives, such as ultrasound and MRI, have their own drawbacks.

In brief: There is no

proof that mammograms cause cancer.
Risk calculations are based on data extrapolated from radiation induced cancers from much higher doses. See xrayrisk.com for risk calculations. Currently mammography is the standard of care for screening: the consensus is that the benefits far outweigh the minimal theoretical risks. The alternatives, such as ultrasound and MRI, have their own drawbacks.
Dr. Michael Gabor
Dr. Michael Gabor
Thank
1 comment
Dr. Randy Baker
It is incorrect to say there is a current "consensus" that mammography is safe and effective. The best available evidence from recent large-scale studies is that there is "no reduction in breast cancer mortality from mammography screening" and that it results in many unnecessary procedures and expenses. See http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/12/us-mammograms-idUSBREA1B1RJ20140212
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