Monday, December 11, 2006

Screening wars

And forty-something breasts caught in the crossfire. A large study of nearly 17,000 UK women in their 40's again highlights the risk/benefit considerations of regularly screening youngish women--with smaller cancer risks--for breast cancer.

The benefit, of course, is the chance to catch a cancer before it catches on. The risks include the significant possibility of 'false positives,' cancerish sorts of changes on the mammogram that turn out, after much anxiety, expense, and biopsy procedures, to not be cancer. But here's a comment from the commenters (editorialists in the Lancet journal about another dilemma:

Every woman, with her physician's guidance, should decide whether regret will be greater if she develops breast cancer that could have been detected earlier by screening mammography, or if she develops breast cancer later in life as a result of screening mammography itself.

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