Research adds to debate over mammograms
A new study confirms that mammograms may not detect breast cancer in premenopausal women because a tumor and normal tissue appear to be the same color. Stanford University researchers reporting in Tuesday's Journal of the National Cancer Institute said while the screening technique works best for women older than 50, the denser tissue of younger women tends to obscure tumors. After menopause, breast tissue often appears gray on a mammogram, providing contrast to tumors, which generally appear white. Some experts have concluded routine screening mammograms should start at age 50; others maintain 40 is still the age to begin. "It's true that these younger patients have denser breasts and tumors can hide," said Dr. Rajiv Datta, medical director of the cancer center at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y. "You get a whiteout effect . . . We never rely on mammography alone. We take a detailed family history of younger women and also conduct other testing,'' such as sonograms.
Many skip testing for colon cancer
The number of Americans being screened for colorectal cancer continues to increase, but the vast majority of the uninsured still do not get screened for this cancer, one of the nation's deadliest, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Almost two-thirds of Americans ages 50 to 75, or 62.9 percent, had been screened for the cancer recently, according to 2008 data, up from 51.9 percent in 2002, the CDC reported. But just over one-third of those without health insurance — 35.6 percent — had been screened, the report said. Hispanics, people with low incomes and little formal education and those in their 50s were also less likely to be screened than other Americans. But screening rates among blacks have improved: 62 percent have undergone either a colonoscopy within the past 10 years or a fecal occult blood test within the previous year, compared with 59.8 percent of whites.