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Op-ed piece says that breast cancer group misleads on mammography

As this blog has noted for readers in select prior posts, the practice of women dutifully receiving a yearly mammogram from a relatively early age has become progressively criticized in recent years. In fact, numerous studies and critics now repeatedly surface to challenge that longstanding norm and point out the material -- and sometimes deadly -- problems associated with it.

The fundamental criticism, based on an impressive amount of analysis and research, is this: Early and frequent mammogram exams can turn out to be every bit as risky as they are rewarding for many women, given the possibility of a breast cancer misdiagnosis and subsequent treatment that can be unnecessary, invasive and potentially harmful.

A new op-ed article appearing in the British Medical Journal now enters the debate over mammograms by questioning statistics supplied by the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation, with researchers taking aim specifically at a recent Komen advertising campaign that is making headway prior to October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The statistics are "an optical illusion," say Drs. Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Most pointedly, Woloshin and Schwartz say that the perceived benefits of regular mammograms are oversold, with the risks understated.

Multiple studies have alluded to the "false positives" sometimes generated through testing, with follow-up chemotherapy, radiation and, sometimes, surgery that is simply not required.

"For every life saved by mammography, around two to 10 women are overdiagnosed," say the authors in the op-ed piece.

The Dartmouth researchers urge Susan G. Komen to rethink its advertising and ultimately convey messaging that allows women to fully appreciate and consider all aspects of a mammography.

"You need to know the facts," says Woloshin, "and you need to weigh them yourself."

If you or someone you love has suffered injury owing to a breast cancer misdiagnosis, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: Huffington Post, "Susan G. Komen accused of 'overselling' mammograms," Catherine Pearson, Aug. 3, 2012

  • Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers for women, which makes a proper diagnosis and suitable treatment, when necessary, critically important. As an experienced medical malpractice firm, we advocate with knowledge, diligence and compassion on behalf of women who have suffered a breast cancer misdiagnosis. For more information, please visit our Hackensack, New Jersey, Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis page.

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