An Overview of Mammography: Benefits and Limitations

Author: Robert A. Smith PhD 1
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  • 1 American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia

Although broad consensus exists that mammography is beneficial, there has been persistent and evolving debate over the extent of the benefit, as well as concerns about cost-effectiveness. Ongoing evaluation of the world's randomized clinical trials as well as new evaluations of population service screening (ie, organized, community-based screening) clearly show that mammography is beneficial and that the benefit of modern mammography among women who attend screening exceeds what has conventionally been estimated from the trials. Limitations of mammography include human and financial costs associated with missed cancers and false-positive results. However, it is important to distinguish those limitations of mammography that are inherent limitations of the technology from those that can be reduced through greater attention to quality assurance.

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Correspondence: Robert A. Smith, PhD, Cancer Control Science Department, American Cancer Society, 1599 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30329. E-mail: rsmith@cancer.org
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