Fearing the routine mammogram

Most Greek women detect the tumors in their breasts on their own, as they continue to disregard the advice of doctors on the importance of routine mammograms in early diagnosis of breast cancer – a disease that affects 12.4 percent of adult women. This is one of the main findings of a study by the Breast Center of Iaso hospital, which were presented by Antonis Keramopoulos, assistant professor of gynecological tumors, during a news conference on Tuesday. The presentation was held in conjunction with a scientific meeting on «Dilemmas and Contradictions in Treatment of Breast Cancer,» to be held from tomorrow to Sunday. The study, which had a sample of 865 women with breast cancer, shows that only 5 percent of the tumors (40 women) had been diagnosed at an early stage during routine mammograms. The majority (74 percent) «detected» the tumor by self-examination, and of those only 26 (4 percent) determined the existence of a malignant tumor by correctly following the directions for self-examination demonstrated to them by their doctors. Found by chance Most women found the tumor either during bathing or by chance, while 19 women detected the growth while watching a television show on the specific disease. Moreover, 10 percent of the diagnoses were made during visits to a specialized doctor. Studies show that the mammogram test can detect a tumor with a diameter as small as 2-3 mm, while a woman is capable of detecting a tumor on her own only if it has a diameter of eight mm or greater, and a trained doctor if it is as small as one cm. Meanwhile, in the cases of 285 women (30 percent) there was a wrongful medical method used for the diagnosis, resulting in a three-month delay before the final results could be verified. The errors are expressed in the phrases, «Let’s watch it,» or, «Let’s see if it grows,» considering that there are 5,000 different pathological cases for the breast – apart from that of cancer – which appear in the form of a tumor. Keramopoulos, though, underlines that omitting these phrases from vocabulary of the doctors will mark a major advancement in breast cancer treatment in Greece. Early diagnosis vital The study also shows that in the cases of 46 women (5 percent) the method used was a puncture with the use of a thin needle (FNA) which turned out negative. Keramopoulos went on to stress the particular importance of early diagnosis of the disease – meaning the detection of the tumor before it reaches the stage that can be felt by the touch of a medical expert or by the woman herself – which can be achieved only with the mammogram, as the smaller the tumor is, the greater the treatment’s chances of success are. According to medical experts, the first mammogram test should be conducted at the age of 35 and to be repeated annually after the age of 40. The victim, an aviation machinist’s mate 3rd class, and five other witnesses had been scheduled to testify at Tuesday’s hearing.

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