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Mammograms - Increased Cure and Survival? - by Susun Weed


Early diagnosis of breast cancer by mammographic screening produces higher rates of cure and longer survival times without actually increasing the number of women cured nor lengthening their lives. How can that be? It's sleight of hand with numbers.  

Survival, when it comes to breast cancer statistics, is defined as being alive five years after the diagnosis of cancer. Cure is defined as being disease-free five years after diagnosis. A women who dies of breast cancer more than five years after her diagnosis can still be included in statistics as a "cure."  

A woman with a slow-growing metastasizing breast cancer will live, on the average, 15 years after the cancer's inception. A mammogram can detect a slow-growing breast cancer when it is about eight years old. (15 - 8 = 7 more years to live.) If this woman dies seven years after her diagnosis, she will be counted as "cured" because she lived for more than 5 years.  

The same slow-growing metastasizing breast cancer will be 11 or 12 years from its inception when noticed by a woman who neither touches her breasts regularly nor has mammograms. (Women who do regular breast self-exam or breast self-massage usually notice a slow-growing cancer nine years after its inception, just one doubling bigger than visible to a mammogram.) This woman will live as long as the woman whose cancer was discovered by screening mammogram, but won't be "cured" because she didn't live for five more years. (15 - 11 = 4 years).  

The cure is only a statistic. There is no difference in the number of years lived after the inception of the cancer, no difference in the length of life, only a difference in number of years lived after diagnosis.  


In several studies, yearly mammograms of women aged 55 and older reduced breast cancer mortality by one-third. But this doesn't mean any one woman's risk is reduced by one-third according to Dr. Peter Skrabenek, a critic of mass screening. Furthermore, the women enrolled in these very successful mammographic studies received regular physical examination of their breasts, which - by itself, without risk - reduces breast cancer mortality. The vast majority of breast cancers found in older women are slow-growing, non-metastasizing, and not life-threatening, no matter when they're found.  


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as well as the national health plans of England, Holland, Italy, and Sweden, recommend screening mammography no more than every two years and only after menopause. Several studies show no advantage to yearly mammograms. Once every two or three years confers the same decrease in five-year mortality, with less radiation hazard to individuals and society, and at far less cost.  


In addition to physical examination and breast self-massage, thermography and ultrasound are safe tests available to women who wish to avoid mammograms. Thermography gives a picture of the heat patterns in the breasts (cancers are hotter than the surrounding tissues). Ultrasound bounces sound waves off the breast tissues to measure their density (cancer is denser than the surrounding tissues). Other techniques used to image breast tissues, such as digital mammography and scintimammography rely on radioactivity and are inherently unsafe.  


  • Get the best, even if it means a long journey.
  • Go where they specialize, preferably where they do at least 20 mammograms a day.
  • Be sure the facility is accredited by the American College of Radiology.
  • Insist on personnel who specialize in mammograms. (Taking and reading mammograms are skills that require intensive training and a lot of practice.)
  • Ask how old the equipment is. Newer equipment exposes the breasts to less radiation. A dedicated unit (one specifically for mammograms) is best.
  • Ask how they ensure quality control. When was their unit calibrated?
  • Load your blood with carotenes for a week before the mammogram to prevent radiation damage to your DNA.
  • Expect to be cold and uncomfortable during the mammogram, but do say something if you're being hurt.
  • The more compressed the breast tissue, the clearer the mammogram. (But pressure may spread cancer cells if they're present.)
  • If your breasts are tender, reschedule. During your fertile years, schedule mammograms for 7-10 days after your menstrual flow begins.
  • Don't wear antiperspirant containing aluminum; it can interfere with the imaging process. (Those clear stones do contain aluminum, as do most commercial antiperspirants.)
  • If you want another opinion, you'll need the original mammographic films, not copies. (X-ray facilities only keep films for 7 years.)
  • Get your doctor to agree, in writing, before the procedure, to give you a copy of your mammogram. The U.S. Public Health Service advises women to ask for written results from a mammogram.
  • Given the high percentage of "false normal" mammograms, if you think you have cancer, trust your intuition.
  • Remove radioactive isotopes from your body with burdock root, seaweed, or miso.

Mammograms don't promote breast health. Breast self-massage, breast self-exam, and lifestyle changes do.  

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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