Don’t Blur the Message on Cancer Screening

I hope this week’s headlines and editorials don’t add to the blurriness of the public’s perception of cancer screening – that people might begin to think it’s a bad thing all around. The details matter….screening if it’s done right can save lives and dollars. That’s because for most tumor types, treating advanced, metastatic disease is costlier than treatment of early-stage, curable tumors.

New Article on Mammography Spawns False Hope That Breast Cancer is Not a Dangerous Disease

Few forms of invasive breast cancer warrant no treatment unless the patient is so old that she is likely to die first of another condition, or the patient prefers to die of the disease….“Mammograms Spot Cancers That May Not Be Dangerous,” said WebMD, yesterday. This is feel-good news, and largely wishful.

New Studies on Colon Cancer Screening by Colonoscopy and Fecal Blood Testing

My take is that periodic colonoscopy has the potential to halve the number of deaths from colon cancer in the general population…As to how colonoscopy relates to fecal blood testing as a screening method at the population level, and the optimal start and frequency of either test, those remain uncertain.

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