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May 16, 1977

Mammography: A Radiologist's View

JAMA. 1977;237(20):2223-2224. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270470059030

Mammography has had a very difficult time gaining general acceptance. Rival groups have engaged in an emotional interchange as to how it should be done, with what, and by whom.

First, surgeons had to be convinced of its worth. They were dubious, often stating, "If there is a cancer in the breast, I can feel it." Only time and accumulation of cases of occult carcinoma have convinced them of its worth.

Next, the opponents of mammography argued that the discovery of the small, nonpalpable breast cancer was an exercise in futility. They postulated that breast cancer developed over a long span of time and that radiologists finding the disease a little earlier really did not affect the course of the disease. However, the Health Insurance Plan (HIP) study has shown that early diagnosis does indeed lead to prolonged survival.1

The argument continues, but under a slightly different heading. The