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There are many people to this day who believe that if they get a mammogram, they won’t get breast cancer. They end up with breast cancer and they say, ‘But I got my mammograms! How can I have breast cancer?’ That’s because we gave them the wrong message. It’s the wrong message. That simple.

“So then it became, ‘Early detection is your best protection.’ Against what? Early detection, put simply, works for some. You find some cancers early enough, they’re treatable, they get their treatments, they live a long life. For some people, early detection just means we’re finding something that will never be life-threatening, we treat them anyway, and they get sick from treatment. And for some people, early detection means you have a kind of cancer that is so aggressive that our currently available treatments cannot help you, and it doesn’t matter when we find it. 

“That’s not hard to understand, but people don’t like that message. Everybody wants to think they’re in the first group.”

-Barbara Brenner, former Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action, Pink Ribbons, Inc.