The following story was submitted to Cochrane Canada by a Health Consumer.
When I turned 40 I started getting regular mammograms as indicated by my family physician. For a couple of years they were uneventful. Two years ago, after my screening, I was asked to come back for a second mammogram as the test had shown a suspicious area. I dutifully went in for a very painful second mammogram that had me really scared and anxious, particularly due to the lack of communication between the screening program, ran by the BC Cancer Agency, my family doctor, and me. I spent a very anxious time waiting for the results from the second mammogram.
Eventually, my doctor contacted me directly to inform me that the second mammogram was still not satisfactory for the screening service to call it a clean test. They were requesting that I come in for a stereotactic core biopsy to completely rule out a cancer diagnosis. Something did not sound right as I was getting conflicting information. On the one hand my physician was doubtful there would be a problem, yet she thought it was absolutely required I undertake the required biopsy.
While waiting for an appointment for the procedure I started doing research and came upon a significant amount of information, but a lot of it sounded biased and guided by a profit motive and not common sense. The definitive piece of information for me was the Cochrane research on mammograms and their lack of effectiveness in detecting actual breast cancer.
After reading the Cochrane research I decided to ditch the biopsy. The BC Cancer Agency was appalled. My physician understood my decision as the guidance for breast cancer screening in British Columbia had literally changed the week I had my appointment to convey this decision!
I owe it to the Cochrane research that I was empowered to make an informed decision that saved me from unnecessary medical intervention and stress! I am healthy and have shelved mammograms until at least being fifty.