A terrific local TV news story on the conflicting advice given women with breast cancer

Another fine example of what local television news can do with complex health topics when serious reporters are given time to pursue stories in-depth.

Jeff Baillon of KMSP-TV (a former health journalism graduate student of mine) reported on the conflicting opinions breast cancer patients are given about followup testing. It’s an important story of evidence-based medicine and of shared decision-making. He demonstrated the confusing, conflicting world that many can be thrown into.

One small but, I think, significant piece of constructive criticism I give Baillon is that he may have confused viewers by using the term “screening” to refer to followup testing of women with breast cancer. Screening should be used to describe testing that’s done on people of unknown risk. I often say that screening is like going into a baseball stadium packed with 40,000 people of unknown risk and then testing to see if you find any problems. But this was a story about followup testing of women who had already received diagnoses and treatment.

That critique should not override my congratulations to Baillon and KMSP-TV for reporting the kind of story one rarely sees on local TV news.

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