Health Care Costs Not Related to Medical Imaging Scans

An article posted by McKesson discussed issue medical imaging cost have on health care expenditures of late. Some say over-utilization has led to higher health care spending, but it could also be argued that medical spending on health care procedures like MRIs, CT scans and Mammograms could be the first line of defense against illness down the line. We agree that it can stop patients and providers from performing more expensive procedures in the future, when a precautionary scan would have caught a problem earlier.

This is especially true in cases where imaging procedures such as mammograms for breast cancer screenings lead to early breast cancer diagnosis. Recent studies for breast imaging have shown that the amount of lives saved from early detection thanks to annual, regular mammogram imaging outweighs the risks and negative aspects associated with “over-scanning.”

The new study conducted by Steven Duffy, a professor of cancer screening at Queen Mary, University of London, indicates that getting a mammogram every two years outweighs any potential radiation dangers of mammograms.  This is especially true for women between the ages of 50 and 70.  The study, published in the September 13th issue of The Journal of Medical Screening states that for every 1,000 women 4 were over-diagnosed.  The details of the over-diagnosis were that 170 women would have had one recall with a noninvasive test that showed up negative.  However, out of 1,000 women who participated in regular mammograms between the ages of 50-70 with no symptoms of breast cancer, it was found that 9 lives were saved as a result of early detection.

Duffy’s findings prove that over-diagnosis should not be women’s primary concern when it comes to breast cancer screenings, in the same way that preventative scans for other medical reasons should not be a main focal point. The fact is, many patients in the United States are uninsured or underinsured and are forced to go without necessary medical procedures already. We want to empower patients, making them advocates for their own health, especially in cases such as mammogram screenings. There are so many more components of health care spending that could be cut or reallocated to allow for less economic spending, but medical imaging is not the problem.