Women are receiving the wrong information about this important health concern 15



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We all know how important it is for woman over 50 to regularly have mammograms or screenings to check for breast cancer, but alarming new research shows 19% of women are given incorrect results from these tests.

A vital part of checking for breast cancer is determining whether a woman as dense or non-dense breasts. Women with dense breasts are most at risk of being given an incorrect result by their radiographer, with their chances of both true and false positive results greatly increased.

These revelations have many woman wondering how such huge amount of mistakes could be made, especially when the issue is so important to their health.

When you go for a mammogram the radiographer will be looking for signs of dense or non-dense breast tissue – non-dense tissue looks dark and transparent, while dense tissue appears more solid and white. This makes it more difficult to detect signs of breast cancer and can potentially increase the chance of missing a diagnosis.

Higher breast density also modestly increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

With so much public awareness surrounding breast cancer it seems surprising that such a large amount of incorrect information is being given to patients.

The most recent figures from the Cancer Council show the government spent $378 million on cancer research in one year alone, so why are we getting incorrect information?

Woman over the age of 50 are encouraged to have a mammogram every two years with 75% of all breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50.

Have you ever been given incorrect information after a mammogram? Should we spend more money on research for breast cancer?


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The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Sorry, I must be having a bad comprehension day. Can someone please tell me what the incorrect information is given to women? I could not seem to “get it” from the post.

    4 REPLY
    • A lot of women with dense breast tissue are being given the all clear when in fact they have breast cancer. For women with dense breast tissue one test is not enough. At the moment I have 2 tests every year and probably next year I will take that up to 3 tests. Hope this helps.

    • Debbie Bryant Thanks Debbie. I’ll take your word for it being clear in the article. Personally I could not see it although I assumed it was something of the sort. I, too, have a mammogram and ultrasound, but as all this was explained to me, and I hear it being explained to each woman presenting at the clinic I attend. I remember thinking how monotonous it must be for the staff to do this to every woman every day. So you might be able to see, with my experience, why I was a bit “dense”. Maybe some clinics don’t follow protocol.

    • Exactly right Debbie. But my advise is to do monthly self examination. The twice, or 3 yearly examinations are safer in conjunction with this 🌸

    • Actually, now that I think about it, why do I need the mammogram if I am having an ultrasound anyway? Hmmm… must ask about that next time.

  2. I have dense breast tissue and I have to have a Mammogram and Ultrasound every year. My doctor is even suggesting I have an MRI as well. It is very difficult to pick up tumours in women with dense breast tissue. I can understand how mistakes are made. This is why having more than 1 test is valuable, one test may pick up something that other tests miss.

  3. My mother died of breast cancer. She had her mammograms every two years religiously. They always came back negative. Even when she was diagnosed the specialist could feel the cancer, ultrasound clearly showed the cancer but a mammogram did not show it. I got this story from a number of other women who were undergoing chemo at the same time as Mum. Why aren’t ultrasounds used more commonly? Far less painful and apparently more accurate. Is there too big of an investment in mammography?

    2 REPLY
    • Paul. I have my tests done in the private sector. I have been told that in the public sector they will only do a ultrasound if something abnormal shows on the Mammogram. Does not make sense to me as in your mother’s case the tumour did not show on the Mammogram. I think it all comes down to money.

    • Paul, my experience would confirm that ultrasounds are better detectors. Not sure but assume mammograms work in the majority of cases? My cancer was deep rooted so the mammogram was not so useful 🌸

  4. As a breast cancer survivor, I think the most effective detection is self examination, at least monthly. The better you know what’s normal for your body, the better equipped you are to notice a change. But sometimes you don’t find any change, because you might have a deep rooted cancer, like I did: I found one cancer, but I had two. The second cancer was found by my doctor. I had an ultrasound and then a mammogram. I then had a biopsy to confirm diagnoses 🌸

  5. And now that the LNP have removed MRI’S from the medicare list more women will be misdiagnosed as they will not be able to afford to have the tests done.

    1 REPLY
    • Totally agree. At the moment I have Mammograms and Ultrasounds yearly and my doctor is considering whether I should also have an MRI. Will have to wait and see how much they cost.

  6. i had mastectomy on my left breast 13 years ago. i discovered a lump on my left breast while i was having a shower and went to my see my gp who recommend me to have mammogram. since then i have my yearly mammogram. i must admit though that i’ve met someone who told me that she had been misdiagnosed. whether to believe in mammogram or not is a matter of trust….

  7. I have both mammogram and ultrasound every 2 years as I have dense breast tissue. This was suggested to me by a doctor many years ago. It is worth the extra cost to go to a private clinic – I was out of pocket $140 at my visit a few weeks ago – worth every cent. Have also had thermal imaging which shows up inflammation – medical practitioners are divided about its value, but I have heard from some women that it detects changes earlier, as all growths show as inflammation even when very small.

  8. I was incorrectly diagnosed 27 years ago. Lucky for me I developed a mouse cyst in the other breast so both the original thickening and the new cyst were checked under anaesthetic and the original thickening was found to be cancerous. If the other cyst had not appeared I’m not sure what would have happened.

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