Medicine and technology are making it more difficult to take care of yourself, even when it seems like you are.

A new Norway study suggests that mammograms are creating false alarms in doctor’s offices. Almost a fourth of breast cancer that is detected after a mammogram does not cause any type of disease, and therefore lends itself to an overdiagnosis.

Instead of women being provided information about the risk of breast cancer screenings and possible overdiagnosis, this problem is met wit uncertainty.

These precautionary measures propel women to jump into action, although it’s likely that no action is necessary.

According to MSNBC, “In the study, for every 2,500 women who underwent mammogram screening over a 10-year period, 20 cases of breast cancer were identified that would have caused significant disease if they went undetected, and one death was prevented. However, 6 to 10 cases of overdiagnosis occurred.”

Unfortunately, technology is not really preventative. There’s no way of knowing when a case of overdiagnosis can occur.

In the study, cases of invasive breast cancer were studied in Norway over a period of 10 years — 1996 to 2005 — when breast cancer screening became mandatory for women ages 50 to 69.

The results were staggering.

“About 7,800 women were diagnosed with breast cancer during the 10-year study period. Of these, the researchers estimated between 15 percent and 25 percent were overdiagnosed — in other words, between 1,169 and 1,948 women would never have faced illness due to their cancers.”

Women are asked to begin yearly mammograms as early as 40-years-old in the States, according to the American Cancer Society. Yet the risk of overdiagnosis varies anywhere between 0 and 54 percent — not much security in numbers.

Yet, with no technology to distinguish which cancers have the probability to be fatal, overdiagnosis are more than likely to keep occuring.

Has anyone in your family been overdiagnosed? What did you do about it?


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