Health News Review

Presidents have said some whacky stuff – even on network TV.

But journalism organizations – rather than treating such appearances as “open mike” night – have an obligation to listen, to react, to ask tough questions.

So when former President Bill Clinton was interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America today, shouldn’t we have expected some kind of challenge to his wild statement that – because of what’s now known about breast cancer genetic variations – females “should be tested as soon as possible after they’re born – young girls, for example, for breast cancer” – ???

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And then Clinton went on to predict that someday we would go in for our annual checkup and “stand in a cone and our bodies will be scanned and now submicroscopic tumors will be picked up.”

It is the identification of submicroscopic are-they-tumors-or-are-they-something-else abnormalities that already create confusion for patients and their physicians in screening of the prostate, breast, cervix and more.

I guess it was expecting too much to have Good Morning America reflect on any of this.

Comments

Shawna O'Reilly posted on September 22, 2009 at 10:33 am

I believe you taught me this very lesson back in the day when I was working on MayoClinic.com’s version of the prostate cancer health decision guide! It was a valuable lesson and I haven’t forgotten it!
Best,
Shawna

Marilyn Mann posted on September 22, 2009 at 1:34 pm

I just listened to the video of this interview. He was not speaking of screening young girls for breast cancer, but rather for genetic variations that predispose them for breast cancer. It is unclear whether he is referring to BRCA mutations only, or to other genetic variations also. He then says that girls who have these genetic variations would be screened for breast cancer at a younger age — say 30 or 35. I don’t know that much about BRCA mutations, so I have no opinion on whether such early screening is a good idea for women who have them. Even if it is, it would not be necessary to do genetic screening of young girls in order to accomplish that. You could wait until they were adults. In any case, I hope no one is getting their medical advice from former President Clinton.