It's Misleading to Say Cancer Screening 'Saves Lives,' Scientists Say
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Newsweek
Posted: January 10th, 2016
The phrase cancer screening saves lives is ... familiar to most consumers of public service announcements. But that advice may be misleading. The ubiquitous adage ... fails to take into account deaths linked to factors related to the screening itself. For example, prostate cancer screening is known to return numerous false positives, writes Vinay Prasad, an assistant professor at Oregon Health and Science University, and contributes to over 1 million prostate biopsies a year. The procedure is associated with serious harms, including admission to hospital and death. Whats more, men diagnosed with prostate cancer are more likely to have a heart attack or commit suicide in the year after diagnosis, he writes. A similar case can be made for breast cancer screening. Fully 60 percent of women who get regular mammograms for 10 years have been handed a false positive result at some point. Being told you have breast cancer - even if it turns out that the test result was incorrect - has been associated with psychosocial distress as great as a breast cancer diagnosis. A massive study of 90,000 women over 25 years found that the regular screening did not change the womens death rates. In fact, if anything, the screenings harmed some women: Out of every five cancers detected with the technology and treated, one was not a threat to the womans health and did not need treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery or radiation, all of which can cause serious side effects.
Note: Read more about routine over-diagnosis and unnecessary treatment of cancer in this New York Times article. And learn about the promising cancer research that has been largely suppressed by the medical-industrial complex. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.