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In the push to get MRIs approved for breast cancer screening, the ugly truth about the poor performance of mammography is coming to light.
In the August issue of The Lancet, a study was reported that included 7,319 women who were followed for 5 years at a national academic breast center in Germany. During that time, 193 women were diagnosed through surgical biopsy with “pure” ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS. Of those, 167 had undergone both mammography and MRI preoperatively. The MRI had correctly identified 92 percent of DCIS while mammograms had missed almost half (46 percent). With high-grade DCIS, MRI picked up all 89 tumors; mammography missed half (48 percent.)
COMMENT: This study is being lauded across news outlets as a “break through” for early detection of breast cancer but be not deceived: It’s not prevention. The MRI is identifying the tiny specks of calcification that cannot be detected by a mammogram.
DCIS is not life-threatening. It is non-invasive, and is considered the earliest form of cancer—Stage 0. Most women who are diagnosed with DCIS are treated with radiation in an attempt to prevent recurrences. However, a new cancer may turn up 25 years later—or longer. This usually happens in the same area of the breast where the DCIS was. Sadly, there are steps that can be taken to improve health — such as the right nutrients, iodine and estrogen-lowering supplements — that can help prevent cancer from coming back.
The intent of the research on MRIs (this is one of many) is to force insurance companies to approve MRIs for annual screenings to the tune of $1000-1500 per exam in comparison to about $150 for screening mammograms. That means insurance premiums will increase; those costs will be passed along to the insured.
Most importantly, research on MRIs should clearly point out the undeserved confidence women have been programmed to have in mammograms. A normal annual xray may be nothing more than a temporary clean bill of health. This fully explains why women can have a normal mammogram five-six-seven years in a row and then the next year, they have cancer. The Lancet study confirms mammograms are *not* early detection!
The goal of breast health is to find areas of concern — and address them — before the tissues degrade to cancer. While thermograms do not identify non-invasive calcifications, they have the ability to detect areas of DCIS that are starting to become aggressive, reflected as increased heat.
Thermography: Redefining the meaning of “Early Detection.”