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American Cancer Society – Benefits of Detecting Many Cancers Has Been Overstated

Posted Oct 21 2009 10:02pm

This is a big switch in paradigms for the Cancer Society, and questions the fact that we may be treating cancers that in fact don’t need to be treated, and some that naturally heal themselves.  Not too long ago there was an article out about this fact with breast cancers I remember reading, image that some go away on their own.  I would guess this would mean those at a beginning stage and not a full blown diagnosis.

The 2 cancers specifically referenced with screening in particular are breast and prostate cancer.   Colon and cervical cancers with early detection seem to be doing better on the scale, in other words we appear to be drawing a big question mark on the fact that we could be over diagnosing perhaps as the results are still the same with breast and prostate cancers overall.  BD

The American Cancer Society, which has long been a staunch defender of most cancer screening, is now saying that the benefits of detecting many cancers, especially breast and prostate, have been overstated.

It is quietly working on a message, to put on its Web site early next year, to emphasize that screening for breast and prostate cancer and certain other cancers can come with a real risk of over treating many small cancers while missing cancers that are deadly.

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“We don’t want people to panic,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the cancer society. “But I’m admitting that American medicine has overpromised when it comes to screening. The advantages to screening have been exaggerated.”

“The issue here is, as we look at cancer medicine over the last 35 or 40 years, we have always worked to treat cancer or to find cancer early,” Dr. Brawley said. “And we never sat back and actually thought, ‘Are we treating the cancers that need to be treated?’ ”

The very idea that some cancers are not dangerous and some might actually go away on their own can be hard to swallow, researchers say.

In Shift, Cancer Society Has Concerns on Screenings - NYTimes.com

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