A recent article by Gina Kolata in the New York Times has led to some confusion about the benefits of cancer screening, particularly in the case of screening for breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society has recently stated in a journal article that the benefits of detecting many cancers (especially breast and prostate) have been overstated.
At The Maurer Foundation, we stress the three-pronged approach to breast cancer and monthly breast-self exams to promote early detection and breast-imaging in the case of discovering any cancerous masses. The three-pronged approach emphasizes breast imaging, clinical breast examination, and breast self examination. While we cannot stop breast cancer from spreading, the three pronged approach empowers individuals to take breast health into their own hands.
Studies from the 1960s to the 1980s have demonstrated that screenings reduced the death rate from breast cancer by up to 20 percent.
The article demonstrates a Catch-22 with early screening — If you find a benign tumor through screening, your run the risk of “over-treating” it. In other words, if this benign tumor or cancer was never caught in the first place, the patient would be unaffected or not harmed by the cancer. Despite what the article may say, we at the Maurer Foundation stress monthly breast-self exams and education! So don’t stop doing your monthly exams, and be sure to set up a virtual alarm clock on our site.