Breast Cancer Month Does More Harm Than Good

Yes, breast cancer is important—but this campaign is too much
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2010 4:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has gone too far, argues H. Gilbert Welch. Even though he's a physician, and even though his own wife survived a breast cancer diagnosis a decade ago, he has serious concerns about the campaign, which “has led women to be more fearful of breast cancer than they need be,” he writes in the Los Angeles Times. He calls the much-repeated "1 in 8" or "1 in 9" statistic "a poster child for how to exaggerate risk (it's not the chance of dying but of being diagnosed)" and says the fact that a breast cancer drugs manufacturer helped found the campaign "doesn't make me feel any better."

He offers a list of things women should be aware of: Yes, breast cancer is important, but it’s equally important to keep your risk in perspective—and to remember that we have made radical improvements in treating it: "The chances of not dying from breast cancer in the next 10 years are 990 per 1,000 — or better." And mammograms may not be as important as you’ve been led to believe: In fact, they’ve led to women being “harmed by unneeded surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for small ‘cancers’ that would not have been found without the mammogram and would never have caused problems.” Click here for another perspective on Breast Cancer Month.
(Read more breast cancer stories.)

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