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Overestimation of Radiation Exposure Causes Women to Forgo Mammography

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According to a recent study, misconceptions and misinformation regarding the risks connected with ionizing radiation have led to a heightened public concern and fear, the outcome of which may lead to avoiding mammography screenings that can detect early cancers all together.

The study sought to determine the baseline understanding of the radiation linked with mammography among patients presenting for initial or follow-up imaging, women were asked to rate the amount of radiation received in a single mammogram as being "considerably less, slightly less, about the same, slightly more, or significantly more," compared to a chain of radiation standards. None of the patients correctly ordered all six of the standards; on average, they overestimated the amount of radiation connected with a mammogram as opposed to other radiation standards.

"Our findings indicate a need to educate patients about the amount of radiation they are exposed to during a single screening mammogram. Using everyday sources of radiation exposure as benchmarks can help add perspective and improve patients' understanding of radiation levels associated with mammography, thereby reducing anxiety related to the examination," said Jacqueline Hollada, a member of the University of California Los Angeles research team.mammo

Hollada presented her study at the 2014 ARRS Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

Eventually the authors came to the conclusion that medical personnel should make a conscious and intensive effort to accurately inform women of the risks and advantages of mammography, particularly mentioning the low dose of mammographic ionizing radiation, and provide tenable facts to make sure that women make informed, objective decisions about the screening.

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