Today Show tries to atone for past sins on screening info

I will give the NBC Today Show some credit for trying to address the issue of too much cancer screening and the overtreatment that results.

Matt Lauer acknowledged that the segment would counter much of what the program had told viewers over the past 10 years or so. What he didn’t say is that the questions about cancer screening are NOT new and that the Today Show had actually misinformed viewers in many of their earlier messages.

But despite the good effort, today’s program was given too little time, was too loosely organized, and probably left viewers horribly confused.

Thank goodness they had one of the best evidence-based minds on the set to address the topic – Dartmouth’s Dr. Gil Welch.

[2017 Update: This video is no longer available but the the transcript is available HERE ]

Lauer half-promised there would be more segments in the future on this topic. I hope they live up to that.

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IIll and Uninsured in Illinois

March 14, 2009 at 1:29 am

There’s an overall health-policy question — does screening save more lives than not screening? And then there’s an individual question — will early detection save _my_ life?
This segment didn’t address the differences very well. And the trouble with the health-policy view is that it treats statistics, not people.

The Publisher

March 14, 2009 at 9:52 am

Ill and Uninsured,
I agree with you. And that is why it is unfortunate that Dr. Welch wasn’t given more time to address what is really his usual stump speech – that informed shared decision-making is the key.
He would not say that no one should be screened nor that everyone should be screened. These decisions require that informed consumers weigh the tradeoffs and make an informed decision along with their caregivers.
It’s difficult to explain nuance in a 5 minute segment. The Today Show should have devoted at least an entire half hour to the topic. And why not? They’re on for several hours every morning.
The Publisher