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Mammograms are Inaccurate - by Susun Weed

Mammograms are Inaccurate  

Low-radiation mammograms are safer mammograms, but less radiation means a fuzzier picture. Standard x-rays - rarely used anymore for breasts - create an easy-to-interpret high-radiation image. Xerograms use half that radiation, but are twice as hard to read. Film-screen mammography, the latest very-low-radiation exam, gives an image that's even more difficult to interpret. More than 10% of all screening mammograms done at one large center in 1992 couldn't be read and had to be redone.  

A 1994 study showed wide variation in the accuracy with which mammograms are interpreted. Understandably, those who read screening mammograms regularly are more accurate than those who rarely do. In some hospitals, however, workloads are so heavy that accuracy suffers from lack of time, not inexperience.  

Roughly 8 out of 10 "positive" mammographic reports are "false positive" - that is, a subsequent biopsy does not confirm the presence of cancer. And as many as half (10-15% at an excellent facility) of all "negative" mammographic reports are "false negative".  

According to current data, if all American women 40-50 years old were screened yearly by mammogram, 40 out of every 100 breast cancers would be missed. If all women over 50 were screened, 13 out of every 100 breast cancers would be missed. Half of all breast cancers in women under 45 are invisible on a mammogram. Screening mammograms often miss the deadliest breast cancers: fast-growing tumors in premenopausal women.    

Mammograms Can’t Tell if There’s Cancer

Neither diagnostic nor screening mammograms detect cancer. Mammograms can reveal areas of dense tissue in the breasts. These areas may be cancer, or may be associated with cancer, or may be normal tissue, but a mammogram can't tell. The only medically accepted way to tell is to do a biopsy. Over 80% of the biopsies done to follow up on a suspicious screening mammogram find no cancer.    

Mammograms Don’t Find Cancer Before it Metastasizes

Breast cancers generally don't begin to metastasize until they contain at least one million cells. It takes an ordinary breast cancer - one that doubles every 100 days - about six years to grow that large. (Some very slow breast cancers take 20 years to accumulate a million cells. A very fast breast cancer can get there in a year.) But a million cells is still only as big as the dot at the end of this sentence. And that's undetectable by either touch or mammogram. (But not by intuition. I've met several women who "felt" their cancers at this tiny size but couldn't convince anyone they had cancer because the medical diagnostic equipment, though technologically advanced, wasn't as perceptive as their inner wisdom.)  

By the time a cancer is big enough to be seen on a mammogram, it's usually 8 years old, has 500 million cells, and is approximately one-quarter inch (half a centimeter) long. It has been large enough to metastasize, if it is going to, for a year or more. (Some breast cancers never metastasize, no matter how large they get.)    

Green Blessings.

Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's four herbal medicine books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing, and breast health.


Visit her site  for information on her workshops, apprenticeships, correspondence courses and more or contact her at:

Susun Weed

PO Box 64

Woodstock, NY 12498

Fax:  1-845-246-8081

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Legal Disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material contained herein is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second opinion.




Browse the publishing site - Ash Tree Publishing - to learn more about her alternative health books.


Venture into the NEW Menopause site to learn all about the Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.

Or Join the Forum! Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Forum - an open space for discussion. Make yourself at home, post a message or start a discussion. This place is for you to share your questions, concerns, and comments with other wise women like you. Take a moment to register and become part of the community. Enjoy!


Susun Weed’s books include:


Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year

Author: Susun S. Weed. Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $11.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

Healing Wise 

Author: Susun S. Weed. Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $17.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing


New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed. The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Foreword by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $16.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

For more great info on menopause, visit the site.

Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed. Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $14.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

For more great info on Breast Health, visit Susun's Breast Health site.

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