January 18, 2012

DON'T BOTHER THEM WITH THE FACTS:

Mammography is overrated (Cornelia Baines, 1/17/12, National Post)

Advocates for screening claim that early detection achieves increased survival time. But it's not clear this is the case. Early detection may result in more years lived with knowledge of the disease -- compared to a woman whose cancer started at the same time but was detected later. If both women end up dying of breast cancer at the same time, no additional years were gained by early detection.

The important outcome when assessing screening benefits should be reductions in deaths from breast cancer, or even better, a reduction in mortality from all causes. The latter has never been shown. Furthermore, when women are over-diagnosed with breast cancer, they will falsely be regarded as long-term survivors.

Finally, we cannot overlook the issue of conflicts of interest. For decades, the imaging industry has publicly excoriated panels who dared to evaluate the effectiveness of early screening, such as the NIH Consensus Conferences, the Cochrane Collaboration, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care and the United States Preventive Services Task Force. These panels were all indisputably objective, multi-disciplinary and expert. But their guidelines were antithetical to the industry's interests.

The truth of more than four decades worth of research is now very clear: The potential benefit of mammography screening is small and the harms are substantial.

Tumor removal is about aesthetics, not health.

Posted by at January 18, 2012 6:23 AM
  

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