Komen Mammogram Ads Misleading: Professors
Their 'statistics are meaningless,' one explains
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2012 12:20 PM CDT
A professor of radiology examines a mammogram in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation's campaign promoting mammograms last October misled women, exaggerating the procedure's benefits and omitting its risks, a paper published in the British Medical Journal argues. "The ad implies that mammograms have a huge effect, but the only evidence that they use is the five-year survival rate," Steven Woloshin, one of the paper's authors, tells CNN. But "in the context of screening survival, statistics are meaningless," because the so-called "survival rate" has "no correlation" to how many people actually die.

And there are real risks associated with mammography, Woloshin says; for every life saved, two to 10 women are misdiagnosed, undergoing unnecessary chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy. "Screening is a genuine decision people need to make and they can only make it if they have the facts. It doesn't mean that screening is not good, it means it does good and it does harm." This isn't the first time Komen has been criticized for its mammography fixation, but the foundation says the test remains the best option available. For more on the mammogram controversy, click here.