This chapter discusses the legacy of the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project (BCDDP), which was concluded in 1981. According to sociologist Maren Klawiter, the BCDDP represented a shift of the “mammographic gaze” into asymptomatic populations. Prior to this time, mammography was a diagnostic (as opposed to a screening) test, used to evaluate women with signs or symptoms of breast cancer. As the mammographic gaze became fixed on the population of women without symptoms, the message of early detection changed. Another important consequence of the BCDDP was the rapid diffusion and adoption of a new breast cancer screening paradigm. The concept that perfectly healthy women exhibiting no signs of disease should be regularly screened with mammography had become widely accepted by the public. Screening mammography joined breast self-examination and clinical breast examination to form a new screening triumvirate that still stands today. The BCDDP also spurred major improvements in mammographic quality.
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