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“For women age 50 to 70, routine screening mammography decreases mortality by 15 to 20% (numbers are lower for younger women). One thousand women in their 50′s have to be screened for 10 years for a single life to be saved. […]

“For every life saved, about 10 more lives are unnecessarily turned upside down by a cancer diagnosis that will only harm them. In a study published online in November, Danish researchers concluded that, ‘Avoiding getting screening mammograms reduces the risk of becoming a breast cancer patient by one-third.’

“But it’s not quite that simple. Some people really are helped by mammography screening, and if you’re the one helped, it’s hard to discount that one life. Right now mammography is the best tool we have.  [Dr. H. Gilbert] Welch, who has spent more time than probably anyone else in America studying this issue, has deemed the decision about whether or not to get breast cancer screening a ‘close call.’ […]

“In August of 2009, I wrote about the overdiagnosis problem for the Los Angeles Times. [Overdiagnosis is when a mammogram finds an inert tumor that, if left alone, would actually not threaten a person’s life.] I happened to be attending a conference with several executives from Komen. When I asked them about overdiagnosis, they were dumbfounded. They had no idea what I was talking about. Nor did they seem very interested. […]

“By contrast, Komen’s chief scientific advisor, Eric Winer of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, was fully aware of the problem. He told me that ‘As painful as it is to admit, we have oversold mammography to the American public.'”

The real scandal: science denialism at Susan G. Komen for the Cure,” Christie Aschwanden, The Last Word on Nothing, Feb. 8, 2012.

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