140th Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra52451335842118050 Tamil Nadu3028752446755041 Andhra Pradesh2355251456362116 Karnataka182354991263312 Delhi1461341316574131 Uttar Pradesh126722767212120 West Bengal98459671202059 Bihar8274154139450 Telangana8075157586637 Gujarat71064542382652 Assam5883842326145 Rajasthan5249738235789 Odisha4592731785321 Haryana4163534781483 Madhya Pradesh3902529020996 Kerala3433121832109 Jammu and Kashmir2489717003472 Punjab2390315319586 Jharkhand185168998177 Chhatisgarh12148880996 Uttarakhand96326134125 Goa871259575 Tripura6161417641 Puducherry5382320187 Manipur3752204411 Himachal Pradesh3371218114 Nagaland30119738 Arunachal Pradesh223115923 Chandigarh1595100425 Meghalaya11154986 Sikkim9105101 Mizoram6203230
Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 11 Apr 2019 Yearly mammograms do ...

Yearly mammograms do more harm than good

Published Apr 11, 2019, 9:31 am IST
Updated Apr 11, 2019, 9:31 am IST
Annual mammograms pose a threat of overdiagnosis and overtreatment..
20 percent of those diagnosed with breast cancer are said to be overdiagnosed and overtreated.(Photo:Representational/Pixabay)
 20 percent of those diagnosed with breast cancer are said to be overdiagnosed and overtreated.(Photo:Representational/Pixabay)

New Delhi: It has long been advised that women from the age of 45 onwards would benefit from a yearly mammogram. Breast cancer cases have steadily been increasing. Current statistics in India show that one in every 22 women develops breast cancer and the survival rate is only 50 percent.

But it has been discovered that getting annual mammograms result in more harm than good, especially on average-risk women. This concern was recently expressed by the American College of Physicians, but had been reiterated by Indian oncologists for a decade, reported The Telegraph.


New evidence suggests that women between the ages of 50 and 74 should get a mammography done once in two years rather than annually. ACP also warned that for women aged between 40 and 49, mammography can result in more harm than good. This statement, though, excludes women who have had a history of breast cancer or have a genetic mutation making them susceptible to the same.

“Harms of breast cancer include overdiagnosis, overtreatment, false positive results, radiation exposure and radiation-associated breast cancer and breast cancer deaths as well as worry and distress from tests and procedures including breast biopsies,” the ACP said.


The statement published by ACP also states that medical evidence shows that 7 per cent of women who get mammograms done annually receive a biopsy recommendation due to a false positive. On the other hand, only 4.8 percent of those who screen every other year got recommendations.

The recommendations provide “clarity and simplicity amidst the chaos of diverging guidelines”, physician-epidemiologist Joann Elmore and radiologist Christoph Lee at the University of Washington in the US wrote in a commentary in the journal.

ACP released guidelines after a rise in the number of annual mammograms in several countries including India. Although Indian gynaecologists recommend annual breast screenings after the age of 45, ACP set different guidelines after a recent study. Women between the ages of 40-44 have a choice of getting themselves screened, from 45-54, they must be done annually; and after the age of 55, women should switch to getting mammograms every two years.


Overdiagnosis, meaning diagnosing a form of cancer that will not leave the person sick or a risk to their health, has emerged as a real concern. Such cancer when detected is not of any clinical benefit to the woman. Even then, 20 percent of those diagnosed with breast cancer are said to be overdiagnosed and overtreated.

Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, which is India’s largest cancer hospital, has been voicing concerns about overdiagnosis for over 15 years. “The new (ACP) guidelines are exactly what we had proposed 15 years ago,” Rajendra Badwe, a senior surgical oncologist and director of TMC, told The Telegraph.