Doctors divided on Centre’s decision to introduce mandatory mammography in India

Starting from November, the Union health ministry has made the screening mandatory for women above 30 years

mammographyWill a mandatory mammography screening help in early detection of breast cancer? While the government of India has made mandatory screening of cancer females above the age 30, a survey done among doctors show 36% think mandatory mammography is not the right way to tackle the epidemic of breast cancer in India.

Curofy – India’s largest community of doctors -conducted a poll where 1410 doctors were interviewed. In the survey, 510 doctors said clinical breast examination and other simpler and inexpensive tests are better than mammography.

Dr Rohan Khandelwal, Breast Oncoplastic surgeon, W Pratiksha Hospital said, “ Though it is heartening to see that the government has taken an initiative to screen ladies above the age of 30 for various cancers, I feel that mammographic screening is not the most effective way to screen young ladies.”

He said in young women the breast tissue is dense and mammography is not sensitive. “We also don’t have enough resources to carry out proper mammographic screening. Lack of trained radiologists especially in the rural setup is another hindrance to this method, in addition to the problem of false positives after mammographic screening,” said Khandelwal.

India and China have the largest number of women with breast cancer. It is said over a lakh new incidences of breast cancer are reported in India annually.

Dr Mehlam Kausar, MD Radiation Oncology from SAIMS, Indore said, “Mammography in young women will not help us in early detection since they have dense breast tissue. But it should be absolutely mandatory in peri-menopausal women which are above 40 years of age especially those who are at high risk like late pregnancy and with a family history. It will help us in early detection and treatment.”

According to World Health Organization (WHO), the top cancer in the world among women is breast cancer. It is estimated worldwide that over 508,000 women died in 2011 of breast cancer (Global Health Estimates, WHO 2013).

“Women should take care of prevention rather than later getting diseases and then preventing it. After the age of 40 every women should have regular monthly check-ups. Mammography, though painful and expensive, should be done in early state even in the case of even a little doubt. It detects early lumps in breast and is trustful method,” said Dr Rishma Dhillon Pai, president elect of Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI).