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Experts warn study doesn’t tell whole story

BOSTON — A Canadian study that many experts say has major flaws has revived debate about the value of mammograms.

Watch report

The research suggests that these screening X-rays do not lower the risk of dying of breast cancer while finding many tumors that do not need treatment.

“As a nurse I know that early detection can really make a difference in saving a life,” said Bev Collins of East Hampstead, N.H., who is also a cancer survivor.

She says the results of a controversial new study don’t tell the whole story.

“I was really concerned because … I think that the media has worked so hard to educate women about the importance of having a regular mammogram, I’m concerned that that message will be at all changed or diluted by today’s message.”

An article published by the British Medical Journal cites a 25 year long study of 90,000 women and suggests mammograms do not lower the risk of dying of breast cancer.

Dr. Peggy Duggan, chief medical officer at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital is also director of the Breast Cancer Center. She says newer digital technology catches cancer earlier.

“There has been a dramatic increase in the number of small tumors that we see, so earlier diagnosis is much more than this study has shown,” she said.

“The one message I would have for patients is rather than read the article and decide you’re not going to have your mammography, I would say make sure you have a real conversation with your primary care provider to know what the value of mammography is in your case,” Duggan said.