Striving for Balance in Cancer Screening News

This is my topic tomorrow (January 26) when I speak to the annual Research and Policy Forum of the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making in Washington, DC. (Disclosure: the Foundation supports my project.)

You can see the program agenda and sign up for a free webcast of the full-day event.

I’m not the only journalist on the program, as you’ll see. Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press and Shannon Brownlee will also speak at the Forum.

I will try to show how the public discussion in this country about the benefits of certain screening tests has never recovered from the debacle surrounding the release of the US Preventive Services Task Force’s mammography recommendations in November, 2009.

As one brief reminder of the misinformation that mangled the mammography shared decision-making message, you can read the transcript of a Glenn Beck interview of Dr. Bernadine Healy of US News & World Report, or watch a video clip of the interview:

Almost every statement in this interview is misleading, incomplete or inaccurate.

I’ll also talk about how imbalanced news coverage has contributed to a confused public discussion about prostate cancer screening and lung cancer screening.

It’s not just happening on cancer topics. Last week I blogged about non-evidence-based promotion of some heart screening tests by Prevention magazine.

Such news coverage doesn’t help people. It doesn’t contribute to informed health care decisions. It may do more harm than good.

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February 5, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Glen Beck is misleading? Who knew!
Healy used to be a tobacco industry consultant, hired to cast doubt on second-hand smoke studies. She is also widely quoted by anti-vaccine groups as saying the purported vaccine-autism link needs further study, and that medical science is “afraid to look” at the damage that vaccines might be causing. She is a cardiologist by training, but somehow passes herself off as an expert on epidemiology, immunology, toxicology, pediatric neurology, and other disciplines where she is not qualified to practice.