Peggy Orenstein’s cover story for the New York Times Magazine, “Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer” is now available online here:
I used to believe that a mammogram saved my life…It was 1996, and I had just turned 35 when my doctor sent me for an initial screening — a relatively common practice at the time…
As study after study revealed the limits of screening — and the dangers of over treatment — a thought niggled at my consciousness. How much had my mammogram really mattered? Would the outcome have been the same had I bumped into the cancer on my own years later? It’s hard to argue with a good result. After all, I am alive and grateful to be here. But I’ve watched friends whose breast cancers were detected “early” die anyway. I’ve sweated out what blessedly turned out to be false alarms with many others.
Recently, a survey of three decades of screening published in November in The New England Journal of Medicine found that mammography’s impact is decidedly mixed: it does reduce, by a small percentage, the number of women who are told they have late-stage cancer, but it is far more likely to result in overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment, including surgery, weeks of radiation and potentially toxic drugs. And yet, mammography remains an unquestioned pillar of the pink-ribbon awareness movement….
Orenstein’s article is very long and one that I would like to comment on after taking some time to carefully reread it. Orenstein says she worked on this article for six months–she deserves kudos for her research. As someone with metastatic breast cancer, I am glad Orenstein represented that reality…. blogger Ann Silberman is quoted.
I hope you’ll take the time to read the article, I think you’ll find it of interest.