Clearing the confusion about mammograms

The bottom line: Mammography saves lives. Various organizations may not agree perfectly on screening recommendations, but don’t use that as an excuse to throw up your hands and do nothing.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year, an estimated 209,060 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer; more than 40,000 will die from the disease.

“Mammography is one of the few screening tools that has been proven to save lives. Every woman over 40 should at least begin a discussion about screening with her doctor,” says Mark Helvie, M.D., director of breast imaging at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Here’s what everyone does agrees on:

  • All women 50-74 should receive regular mammograms.
  • Mammography may be the right choice for women in their 40s. While many groups, such as the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, continue to recommend routine screening, others advocate a discussion between women and their health care providers.
  • Yearly or every other year? Many groups continue to recommend annual exams. The difference of opinion comes down to a balance between benefit and harm. Annual screening saves more lives but at a cost of more harms. Talk to your doctor about your options.
  • Women at very high risk for breast cancer may benefit from additional screening with MRI. Continue reading

Organic curiosity: Is it worth the extra cost to buy organic?

A cancer diagnosis often makes people re-evaluate their eating habits, inspiring many to incorporate more organically grown foods in their diets. Some people buy organic because of concerns about the environment, pesticides or animal welfare. Others perceive organic foods to be more nutritious. But considering the higher cost, is there any evidence that organically grown food offers more health benefits than conventionally grown food?

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s dietitians tackle this question in their latest nutrition column for our patient publication, Thrive. In addition to weighing the pros and cons of eating organic food, the dietitians offer lists of foods that typically contain the high and low levels of pesticides when conventionally grown, so that you can spend your money more wisely.
Visit Thrive to read the full story.