Health screening

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

Breast screening review? I predict a riot.

Today (26 Oct. 2011) is not the day to be working for a breast cancer charity. Staff will be drafting Press Releases and copy for the websites, the phones will be ringing off the hook, some callers will be distressed, others angry, the press will be pressing and at the back of the staff’s mind will be the uncertainty.

What do female staff of breast cancer charities do about their own breast screening?

British breast cancer charities are all, as far as I can tell, in favour of breast screening. This will be for two reasons. One is that they are genuinely totally convinced of the value of it and that the benefits for all woman far outweigh any risks. The second reason is more intangible – screening’s usefulness as a ‘Call to Action’ and its symbolic strength as a sign of engagement with breast cancer awareness.

Breast screening - An unCharitable view

Yesterday (Thursday 1 September) I read this piece on the Channel 4 news website. It's about a paper in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine which apparently says says the risks of breast cancer over diagnosis are ‘not made clear’. Ears pricked up.

Breast screening and the individual: there’s no such thing as a purely personal decision.

Goodness knows if anyone has researched the anthropology or sociology of British women’s engagement with breast screening. I don’t feel inclined to search literature today to find out if they have, so I’ll stick with pondering, for now. 

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's: 85% accurate?

Here’s an interesting thing. I’m trying to find the origins of a story that was all over the news earlier this week. You may have caught it? The one about using MRI scans and some new computer software to improve diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

An answer, of sorts, on breast screening

Sometimes you just know when you have made someone's heart sink. When I sent my letter off to my local breast screening unit, asking for a bit more detail on what use breast screening may or may not be to me, I knew they'd roll their eyes and say either out loud or in their heads 'Oh knickers, it's one of those women.'

Still sent the letter tho'. Here's what I wrote:

Dear Dr.

Hey! Sniffer dogs for cancer! They're back.

The dogs are back! I love this story. The media love this story and the public do too. Dogs that can sniff out cancer. This time it's Japanese dogs and bowel cancer but it's been skin cancer, bladder cancer and also prostate cancer, where I made my own little contribution to the romance of it all, some years ago. I landed up in a BBC news studio with a golden retriever called Bliss.

My first breast screening invitation! I'm now PROPER old

I'm not sure what to make of this. I've just had my first letter inviting me to attend my local West London breast screening unit for a mammogram. Very oddly, the word 'cancer' does not appear anywhere on it. 

Is this:-

Prostate Cancer and a revised version of Newton’s 3rd law of motion

For each and every fact about prostate cancer there is a equal and opposite fact. This means 'sound bite' prostate cancer awareness is impossible, though no one considers they should stop trying. Campaigns about prostate cancer have to stretch meanings or abbreviate them, to make them fit. March is the next prostate cancer awareness month and this year's key messages will soon be around so we can see what they are. 

"I hope that screening for Alzheimer's will be available on the high street within five years."

"I hope that screening for Alzheimer's will be available on the high street within five years." So says Professor Francesca Coredeiro,  from University College London Institute of Ophthalmology in this BBC news story about a new technology that seems to work in mice and is shortly to be tested in humans for the first time.

High street? Screening? Alzheimer's? ............. Seriously?