Study Faults Breast Cancer Exams (Los Angeles Times Posted on November 27, 2012).
The Los Angeles Times reports that about one-
mammography screenings are unlikely to result in illness, according to a study published
in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, co-
a professor of medicine at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policies and
Clinical Practice, says that go years of the breast cancer exams have resulted
in the over-
"Our study raises serious questions about the value of screening mammography,"
Welch writes in the study. "It clarifies that the benefit of mortality reduction
is probably smaller, and the harm of over-
been previously recognized."
New England Journal of Medicine By Andrew M Kaunitz, MD December 30, 2012
New Analysis fails to identify clear net benefit of screening. We have become
increasingly aware of the potential harms of screening mammography,
while cognizant that much of the reduction in breast cancer mortality reflects advances
in treatment. To clearly communicate the relative benefits and risks associated with the
Screening mammography, investigators used study data from Sweden, Canada and the
U.S. to quantify the likelihood of three outcomes in women aged 40,50,60; reduction
in breast cancer mortality, false positive results and over diagnosis of in situ and invasive
breast cancer. The authors estimate that among 1000 women aged 50 who undergo
annual screening for I decade, 0.3 to 3.2 fewer deaths from breast cancer will occur,
490 to 670 women will receive at least I false positive finding and 3 to 14 women will be over diagnosed
(usually leading to unnecessary treatment). Comment from Welch HG and Passow HJ Intern Med.
Simply knowing that mammographic screening involves risks and benefits is not enough;
making informed choices about screening involves the ability to weigh these risks and benefits.
These authors acknowledge that, while the estimated outcomes ranges they have calculated might not
help all women to make informed decisions, providing a single "best" estimate could be misleading. We should keep
in mind that the this practice started over 50 years ago and it could well be time to rigorously reevaluate
There's also a Dr. Oz connection and a screening theme in Jane Brody's New York Times column,
"Thyroid Fears Aside, That X-
it comes to cancer, especially when the cause, unlike smoking, seems beyond one's control. So I was not surprised
by a stream of panicked e-
thyroid cancer "the fastest-
like dental X-
said the stable death rate despite a rising incidence strongly suggests that most of the thyroid cancers now being
diagnosed would never have become a health threat. "Our technology has gotten so good that we are finding
cancers today that even 15 years ago would not have been diagnosed," Dr. Brawley said in an interview.
"We're finding and treating cancers that would never have killed anyone." In a study describing a 140 percent
increase in thyroid cancers diagnoses from 1973 to 2002, published in The Journal of the American Medical
Association in 2006, researchers at the Veterans Affairs medical center in White River Junction, Vt., Also
concluded that the rise was the result of "increased diagnostic scrutiny."