Screening for Breast Cancer with Mammography is a Cochrane systematic review originally published by Peter Gøtzsche and Karsten Jørgensen in 2001 and updated multiple times by 2013. In the 2013 article, the authors discuss the reliability of the results from different clinical trials involving mammography and provide their conclusions about whether mammography screening is useful in preventing deaths from breast cancer. Mammography is an X-ray technique used to detect abnormalities in breast tissue, such as breast cancer, which affects about twelve percent of women in the world and has a significant risk of mortality. The authors concluded that mammography screenings reduced breast cancer mortality, but resulted in problems such as overdiagnosis and overtreatment of screened women. The article Screening for Breast Cancer with Mammography contributed to the then ongoing controversy about the usefulness of mammography and provided accessible information about mammograms in seven languages.

From 1963 to 1982, researchers in New York City, New York, carried out a randomized trial of mammography screening. Mammography is the use of X-ray technology to find breast cancer at early stages. The private insurance company Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York, or HIP, collaborated with researchers Sam Shapiro, Philip Strax, and Louis Venet on the trial. The researchers’ goal was to determine whether mammography screening reduced breast cancer mortality in women. The study included sixty thousand women aged forty to sixty-four. Half of the women received two annual breast examinations that involved mammography, a breast exam, and an interview. The rest of the women were not invited for annual examinations. After follow up, the researchers found that of the women who received the examinations, thirty percent fewer died from breast cancer than the women who did not receive any examinations. The HIP trial was one of the first large-scale clinical trials to provide evidence that mammography screenings helped prevent breast cancer deaths in women.

Torsten Nils Wiesel studied visual information processing and development in the US during the twentieth century. He performed multiple experiments on cats in which he sewed one of their eyes shut and monitored the response of the cat’s visual system after opening the sutured eye. For his work on visual processing, Wiesel received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1981 along with David Hubel and Roger Sperry. Wiesel determined the critical period during which the visual system of a mammal develops and studied how impairment at that stage of development can cause permanent damage to the neural pathways of the eye, allowing later researchers and surgeons to study the treatment of congenital vision disorders.

Roger Wolcott Sperry studied the function of the nervous system in the US during the twentieth century. He studied split-brain patterns in cats and humans that result from separating the two hemispheres of the brain by cutting the corpus callosum, the bridge between the two hemispheres of the brain. He found that separating the corpus callosum the two hemispheres of the brain could not communicate and they performed functions as if the other hemisphere did not exist. Sperry studied optic nerve regeneration through which he developed the chemoaffinity hypothesis. The chemoaffinity hypothesis stated that axons, the long fiber-like process of neurons, connect to their target cells through special chemical markers. This challenged the previously accepted resonance principle of neuronal connection. Sperry shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel.

During 1964, David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel studied the short and long term effects of depriving kittens of vision in one eye. In their experiments, Wiesel and Hubel used kittens as models for human children. Hubel and Wiesel researched whether the impairment of vision in one eye could be repaired or not and whether such impairments would impact vision later on in life. The researchers sewed one eye of a kitten shut for varying periods of time. They found that when vision impairments occurred to the kittens right after birth, their vision was significantly affected later on in life, as the cells that were responsible for processing visual information redistributed to favor the unimpaired eye. Hubel and Wiesel worked together for over twenty years and received the 1981 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their research on the critical period for mammalian visual system development. Hubel and Wiesel’s experiments with kittens showed that there is a critical period during which the visual system develops in mammals, and it also showed that any impairment of that system during that time will affect the lifelong vision of a mammal.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Roger Sperry performed experiments on cats, monkeys, and humans to study functional differences between the two hemispheres of the brain in the United States. To do so he studied the corpus callosum, which is a large bundle of neurons that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. Sperry severed the corpus callosum in cats and monkeys to study the function of each side of the brain. He found that if hemispheres were not connected, they functioned independently of one another, which he called a split-brain. The split-brain enabled animals to memorize double the information. Later, Sperry tested the same idea in humans with their corpus callosum severed as treatment for epilepsy, a seizure disorder. He found that the hemispheres in human brains had different functions. The left hemisphere interpreted language but not the right. Sperry shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1981for his split-brain research.

David Hunter Hubel studied the development of the visual system and how the brain processes visual information in the US during the twentieth century. He performed multiple experiments with kittens in which he sewed kitten’s eyes shut for varying periods of time and monitored their vision after reopening them. Hubel, along with colleague Torsten Wiesel, received the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for that research. By using kittens as models for human children and sewn eyes as models for congenital vision disorders, Hubel’s research demonstrated how vision impairments can affect the development of the visual system in humans. Furthermore, Hubel’s research has informed surgeons about the importance of operating on infants with vision impairments during the first months of life to prevent deterioration of the visual cortex of the brain and permanent vision loss.

Nancy Goodman Brinker founded the largest breast cancer organization in the US, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, during the twentieth century. In 1982, Brinker created the organization, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in memory of her sister, who had died of breast cancer two years earlier. During the early twentieth century, breast cancer was socially stigmatized, very few people discussed the disease, and there were limited treatment options available for those diagnosed with the disease. Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer and it affects almost 12 percent of women worldwide. In 1983, Brinker created the Susan G. Komen Race for Cure, a fundraising and awareness event for breast cancer. The organization provides funding for research, advocacy, and programs related to breast cancer. In the early 2000s, Brinker served as the US Ambassador to Hungary and, later, as the US Chief of Protocol. In 2009, US president Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2017, Brinker serves as the Chair of Global Strategy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure and as the World Health Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control. Brinker’s activism in the field of breast cancer raised awareness, public attention, funding, and support for women affected by breast cancer.

Mammography or mastography is an imaging technology used in the twentieth century for the detection of breast cancer and other breast abnormalities. Breast cancer is an abnormal growth in breast tissue that can spread to other parts of the body and cause death. Breast cancer affects about twelve percent of women worldwide. In the twenty-first century, mammography is one of the most accurate tools for screening and diagnosing breast cancer. A mammogram is the image created by sending low-level X-rays through breast tissue then filmed or a digital recorder captures the image, which a radiologist analyzes. A Senographe is the instrument used to create the mammogram to screen for breast cancer and other breast diseases. Mammography significantly decreased the number of deaths from breast cancer, but it can also give false positive results and cause physicians to over diagnose that may result in treatment for diseases women do not have.

Subscribe to Dina A. Lienhard