October 31, 2015

TESTING IS GOOD BUSINESS, BAD MEDICINE:

Why have mammograms failed to reduce breast cancer? (Julia Belluz | October 29, 2015 | Vox)

The whole idea behind cancer screening is that doctors will find the disease earlier -- even before symptoms appear -- and therefore be more likely to successfully treat it and control any spread.

But as the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, shows, the introduction of mass mammography screening has failed to reduce the rate of advanced-stage breast cancers in women.

The incidence of metastatic cancers (or cancers that have already spread and are therefore more deadly) has remained stable since 1975 -- despite the initiation of widespread screening programs aimed at getting all women of a certain age mammograms.

The stubborn trend suggests, lead author and Dartmouth physician Gilbert Welch said, that mammography programs aren't having any impact on the number of women who have serious breast cancers, which means mass screening probably can't detect the most aggressive forms of the disease at an early stage.

Interestingly, the authors of the paper note, the average age at diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer among women 40 and older hasn't changed (remaining 64 years) in nearly 40 years.

Posted by at October 31, 2015 8:59 AM
  

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