Our Bodies, Ourselves on breast cancer, early detection and chemicals

The OBOS blog uses the NYTimes story on DCIS to explain the myth of early detections.

When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released new recommendations in 2009 calling for less frequent screening mammograms for women under age 50, the news caused quite a ruckus.

Many women’s health organizations, such as Our Bodies Ourselves, National Women’s Health Network and Breast Cancer Action, applauded the new guidelines — and had, in fact, been recommending the same approach for pre-menopausal women for many years. But understanding the science behind the logical, if somewhat counter-intuitive, recommendations requires a nuanced analysis.

Now, a New York Times examination of breast cancer cases explains, in very personal terms, the problems with diagnosing breast cancer — especially early detection methods, which are “prone to both outright error and case-by-case disagreement over whether a cluster of cells is benign or malignant.”

As a result, pathologists are over-diagnosing and doctors are over-treating small growths in the breasts that are often benign.

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