Health News Review
  • Mar 8 2012

    What Doctors Don’t Know & Journalists Don’t Convey About Screening May Harm Patients

    A paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week asked (and partially answered): “Do Physicians Understand Cancer Screening Statistics?” The authors – familiar names like Woloshin, Schwartz, Gigerenzer – are from the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. It’s a shame this paper isnR…

  • Oct 22 2013

    When doctors don’t discuss harms of screening tests with patients

    Another important paper in the JAMA Internal Medicine “Less is More” series. “Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment: Evaluation of What Physicians Tell Their Patients About Screening Harms,” is by one of my risk communication gurus, Gerd Gigerenzer and colleague Odette Wegwarth. They surveyed 317 US men and women aged 50-69 years, a population with the highest exposure to screening programs. Their summary: Most participants …

  • Oct 11 2012

    PrivateHealthScreening: What to Think About When You’re Thinking About Screening Tests

    In the Guardian newspaper, UK physician and writer Margaret McCartney wrote, “Private health screening tests are oversold and under-explained: Health screening can cause more harm than it prevents, so companies have a duty to provide full information to customers.” In the article, she introduced a new website called  She writes that: “…out of frustration and anger, myself and a few colleagues —…

  • Oct 26 2011

    New England Journal of Medicine pieces on prostate cancer screening

    This week’s edition of the NEJM includes four perspective pieces on the new US Preventive Services Task Force’s prostate cancer screening recommendations. One, on “what the USPSTF left out,” states: “Although the USPSTF explicitly does not consider costs, policymakers cannot ignore economic aspects of screening. Using data from the European screening trial, researchers have estimated that $5.2 million would have …

  • Feb 23 2012

    Colon cancer screening news coverage all over the map & readers are probably lost

    A couple of studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) don’t present as clearcut a picture of colon cancer screening evidence as some stories might suggest. One study pointed to benefits of colonoscopy screening.  Another described potential benefits of a form of blood stool testing called Fecal Immunochemical Testing (FIT). An editorial in the NEJM attempted to give perspective on both studies. The Los Angeles Times …

  • May 1 2012

    Cardiobrief blog says NYT story on screening for student athletes “falls short in so many respects”

    Larry Husten, publisher of Cardiobrief,  posted on his blog, “Half the News That’s Fit To Print: NY Times On ECG Screening For Student Athletes.”  He has allowed me to re-post the column here in its entirety. There may be no more horrifying medical catastrophe than the sudden death of a young athlete on the playing field in front of a large crowd of friends, family, and community. But it’s also a dizzyingly complex subject with no ea…

  • Feb 7 2012

    Facts/fallacies on breast and ovarian cancer screening

    Breast cancer specialist Dr. Susan Love has an essay in the New York Times, “Real Race in Cancer Is Finding Its Cause,” in which she says the recent Komen/Planned Parenthood “furor misses an important fact: Women have been led to believe that screening is the best prevention.” She continues: “…the original screening study done in the 1950s on postmenopausal women in New York demonstrated a 30-percent decrease …

  • Nov 23 2012

    Roundup of some reactions to NEJM mammography overdiagnosis analysis

    There has been much reaction to a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Effect of Three Decades of Screening Mammography on Breast-Cancer Incidence.” It is at times like this that a lone blogger like me on a holiday weekend can easily feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task of trying to capture the discussion with accuracy, balance and completeness.  With that caveat, I make a humble and admittedly limited attempt. Firs…

  • May 22 2012

    Reactions to USPSTF prostate cancer screening recommendations

    …2;————— I’m attending the annual meeting of the American Urological Association.  Late yesterday, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued its final D recommendation against prostate cancer screening.  Predictably the AUA leadership is up in arms, promptly releasing a statement expressing outrage at this recommendation.  Earlier yesterday, before the final recommendation was released, the AUA held a Town Hall m…

  • Sep 1 2009

    ABC reports on screening questions and STILL ends up endorsing screening

    On the very day that we announced that would no longer systematically review network TV health news stories, we were provided two fresh examples – both on ABC – of the sorry state of many network TV health news efforts. Reporting on the two studies in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that raised important questions about both prostate cancer screening and breast cancer screening (at least the role of…

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