Doctor, survivor counter breast cancer study

One of the most frustrating messages women get is about how to detect breast cancer early.

One study says one thing, another set of statistics says another.

Last month, researchers out of Canada said their study shows that, statistically, mammograms don't save lives.

But a top local oncologist thinks the study wasn't well done, and she doesn't mince words.

“There are women out there whose lives are saved by getting a mammogram, there's no question about it,” says Mary Simmonds, MD.

Her fear is that this study will give women an excuse to skip mammograms, an x-ray few look forward to.

She says, “That could be enough to say, 'Oh, then I won't do it,' and that's frustrating to me as a medical professional.”

The researchers divided 90,000 women into two groups.

The first group got regular mammograms.

The second group did not. Instead they received only physical breast exams.

After being monitored for 25 years, researchers found women who had regular mammograms were just as likely to die from breast cancer as those who had no mammograms.

For survivors like Betty Bryan, that's surprising to say the least.

She says, “If you have the option, get one every year.”

Betty is the abc27 Promotions Director. She was diagnosed just before Thanksgiving and immediately thought about her husband and two children.

“From that point on I was in a fog,” she said. “That day I was just, this can't be happening. It was intense.”

She had a mastectomy and will take Tamoxifen for five years.  Her breast cancer was detected by a mammogram.

“I had no symptoms I had no lump I had nothing. If it wasn't for the mammogram I would never have known.”

Dr. Simmonds says the study isn't a very good one.  She says much of the data is from the 1980s when technology and radiologists weren't as good as they are now.

“These data do not apply to 2014. That's really the case. Absolutely get the mammogram.”

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