Tuesday, February 2, 2010

More Mammography Controversy

I found this interesting tidbit in a Newsweek article by Sharon Begley.

In today’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists are reporting a study (the journal has made it available for no charge, so read it yourself and print it out for your doctor) that strongly suggests that some of the cancers detected by mammography would have vanished on their own had they not been detected and treated.

Cancers that vanish on their own? How is that possible? We’ve been led to believe that cancer is a killer – without treatment a death sentence and sometimes even with the most radical, aggressive, state of the art medicine to tackle it. How can it possibly just go away on its own?

Another quote from the article discusses a study that followed women who were screened for breast cancer and women who were not:

breast cancer rates were higher among screened women than not-screened women.

Interesting, huh? Or maybe frightening is a better word. Based on the articles I read, I’ve been wondering if maybe cancer is something we all get once in a while, some of us fight it off unknowingly and it goes away and others have it detected and then undergo radical treatments to kill it, sometimes winning the battle and other times not. I’m not suggesting we stop all treatments for cancer, but it concerns me that maybe the medical industry treats it too aggressively. I’ve known enough people who have died after a cancer diagnosis and aggressive treatment. It bothers me to wonder if they might have survived if their cancer had never been detected in the first place.


  1. Okay, it's early and I haven't finished my coffee but I don't understand this:

    "breast cancer rates were higher among screened women than not-screened women."

    My reaction is well, duh, the non-screened women should be 100% cancer-free since they haven't been screened.

    I know I'm missing something. Going to pour more coffee....

  2. What I got from the article was that women who were screened for cancer regularly had more incidences of cancer than women who were not screened regularly - the un-screened women did actually get screened at the end of the trial, but they did not receive any screenings during the trial. Slso some of the unscreened women may have reported health problems that led to cancer diagnosis without having been screened as a preventative measure.