This is the kind of reporting that does not serve the best interests of “breast cancer awareness month.”
WCCO-TV reports on one woman who they say, “skips federal advice, finds breast cancer.” The station reports, “Last November, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said women in their 40s should not get routine mammograms.”
That is simply and harmfully incomplete and inaccurate.
Here’s what the USPSTF actually wrote:
“The decision to start regular, biennial screening mammography before the age of 50 years should be an individual one and take patient context into account, including the patient’s values regarding specific benefits and harms.”
The TV story also states that the woman they profiled “is a 42-year-old woman who should have many healthy years ahead of her, and has a very strong opinion about mammograms.” But this inaccurate and imbalanced report didn’t reflect any other opinions – or evidence – to balance the discussion.
Please note that just last week we praised a competing Twin Cities TV station’s reporting on another complex breast cancer issue. That reporting, by KMSP-TV, is a model for what could be done. This story, by WCCO, is not.
It is not in the public interest – not in viewers’ best interests – to simplify this complex issue. It is in response to topics like this that journalism must rise to a higher level of evaluating evidence, of considering shared decision-making approaches, and of presenting the full range of options available to women. If you can’t do that, you might be better off leaving the topics alone because harm can be done.