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The great American mammography debate

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7334.432 (Published 16 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:432
  1. Fred Charatan, retired geriatric physician
  1. Florida, USA

    It all started quite quietly. Tucked away on page 16 of the New York Times in the fourth week of January was a news item reporting that a committee of cancer experts—the Physician Data Query screening and prevention editorial board (known as the PDQ board)—had found that there was insufficient evidence to show that mammograms prevented breast cancer deaths.

    The New York Times followed up its news story with a measured editorial, pointing out that a great deal of money was at stake. It predicted that it would not be easy to get an independent review of the benefits of mammography. “Mammography has been so strongly endorsed by the cancer establishment, and has become such a significant source of revenue … for many hospitals and doctors, that it may be difficult to excise …

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