publication date: Apr. 24, 2015

Wender: Mammography Guidelines Should Balance Benefits and Risks, Not Costs


A controversial study on the costs of unnecessary mammography, published in the April issue of Health Affairs, contains “serious methodological flaws,” said Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer at the American Cancer Society.

Titled “National Expenditure for False-Positive Mammograms and Breast Cancer Overdiagnoses Estimated at $4 Billion a Year,” the study, by Kenneth Mandl and Mei-Sing Ong, uses expenditure data from a major U.S. health care insurer for 702,154 women in 2011 to 2013.

Of the $4 billion, $2.8 billion is attributed to false-positive mammograms, and $1.2 billion to breast cancer overdiagnosis. The study measures the rate of false positives at 11 percent and estimates overdiagnosis at 22 percent.

“Let me be really clear: I don’t think that article should have or will have any impact on the [US Preventive Services Task Force], and it will not have any impact on [the American Cancer Society] guidelines, either,” Wender said.

Wender spoke with Matthew Ong, a reporter with The Cancer Letter.


Matthew Ong: It looks like we have new data on breast cancer false positives and overdiagnosis, and a new draft recommendation on mammography from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. What is the message here?

Richard Wender: Here’s the story with overdiagnosis. I think that we’re in the early stages of understanding what overdiagnosis is, and in the very early stages of communicating to … Continue reading 41-16 Wender: Mammography Guidelines Should Balance Benefits and Risks, Not Costs

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