Beyond October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s not clear why this story–which is a rehash of a news release–was published. It won’t serve readers well: The story contains no new information; it oversimplifies the ongoing complexities of the debate about appropriate levels of breast cancer screening and their consequences; and overall is unlikely to help women make an informed decision about their medical care.
Breast cancer remains a persistent killer of women in the developed world, and while treatments have improved quality of life and some overall survival rates in some groups, uncertainty persists with respect to clinical screening and risk assessment guidelines. An individual woman’s risk of dying of breast cancer is highly variable, based on genetics, environmental, and psychological factors. Thus, articles designed to raise awareness about the need for careful risk assessment and purposeful preventive and interventional care need to put information in careful context because women already at risk, or the worried well, may pay too little or too much attention to the wrong advice.
The article lacked information on costs. Insurance does not always cover screening.
Beyond vague generalizations of benefits, this article is essentially data free. Based on research, to what degree do these various screening methods save lives? The story doesn’t say.
There are potential and actual harms to screenings, including unnecessary biopsies and other tests, anxiety and false negatives. Again, while new technologies have reduced some of these harms, they are not zero. The story doesn’t mention any.
No quantifiable or measurable evidence for the value of “just say yes to screening” is offered. What is the evidence behind these methods? We’re not told.
This article does not disease-monger.
No independent sources were cited. The article is based almost entirely on a single source in a news release issued by Fox Chase cancer center by a mammographer.
We’ll will give the story credit for noting that there are several screening methods, and for pointing out that not all women who have symptoms get breast cancer.
It’s clear that all of these screening methods are available.
It’s not clear what’s “novel” or new about this information. If this piece ran because of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, that should have been more clear.
This story appears to rely entirely on the news release.