Health screening

Comments on cancer and other health screening, the public's faith in benefit and no understanding of risk.

I have just turned down breast screening. Again.

I have just turned down breast screening. Again. Second time of asking; second time of polite refusal. I blogged about the first time I was asked, remarking on several things that struck me as odd and unsatisfactory.  

Oi. Movember. No!

I see the moustaches. I get the jokes, I groan at the puns. I marvel at the money. I spot the global reach. I understand the popularity. I grasp the style. I read all the words. 

What’s at the core though? It does come over very Emperor’s New Clothes if you concentrate and keep saying to yourself ‘Yes, that's all very well but what do they actually mean?’

We should all wonder about the content. It’s ours, after all; we paid millions for it.

No idea why but breast cancer charities struggle with screening and informed choice.

I’m training my beady eye on breast cancer charities, picking over their joint response to last week’s outcome of the breast screening review. A bit of context: I refused breast screening last year, based on the inadequate information on risks that was available to me. Now I am better informed via the Review I’ll probably continue unscreened as, for me, the benefit isn’t big enough to risk the risks.

What is the UK prevalence of women overdiagnosed with breast cancer by screening?

The review on breast screening estimates that every year about 4,000 women are ‘overdiagnosed’ with breast cancer. ‘Overdiagnosed’ means that as a result of breast screening a cancer has been identified and treated, but in the absence of screening it would never have threatened life and would have remained undetected in a lifetime. Some of these overdiagnosed women - but neither we nor they know which they are - will be advocates for breast screening when that is both misinformed and misinforming.

n=1 Me, on breast screening

The Review is out. I've just scan read the summary, from The Lancet online and comment in various places.

I was a breast screening refusenik already. Now I will continue to be a breast screening refusenik. But a more confident one....

I am not immune to breast cancer. I know that. Neither am I reckless with my health. I am cross however, that overdiagnosis by breast screening has been warned about since at least 1988, and no one has ever bothered women and their pretty little heads with this.

Has 'risk' ever been part of popular discourse on breast cancer screening?

I’m pretty interested in screening in general and cancer screening in particular.

Capacity for housework: a hitherto unknown (to me) benefit of breast screening

Benefit? Sounds more like a risk…..

In July 1985 a working group under Sir Patrick Forrest was invited by Ken Clarke (yes him, the same Ken Clarke as our current Ken Clarke) to look at the evidence on breast screening and decide what to do about it. It made its report - Breast Cancer Screening - in November 1986. The Government accepted it in full for implementation in early 1987.

Hence our current breast screening programme.

Where is the 'User Advocacy' on the Breast Screening Review panel?

Here’s a brief thing. Brief? Ha! We’ll see. I’m back to thinking about the current Breast Screening Review. I wondered when it would be completed, so I went to the page about it on CR-UK’s website. It still said Spring/Summer 2012, as it always has. That’s fine. I sent them an email to ask if there was a more up-to-date estimate.

Then I noticed some info. has been updated. 

Breast screening, overdiagnosis and some denial

There was another publication on the unintended consequences of mammography last week, so off I went to look at it. Ha! Bless those Scandewegians. Who knew they’d  turn out to be so much trouble on breast screening? Norwegians this time. It’s been Danes. They host the Nordic Cochrane Group in Copenhagen who stirred things up in the past, questioning just what on earth breast screening is doing to women.…..