Woman should not be given mammograms for the same reason that men should not have PSA tests! This is the conclusion that would be very easy to come away with after reading an article in today’s New York Times (November 25, 2008), “Study Suggests Some cancers May Go Away”, by Gina Kolata.
Researchers, for many years have known that in rare cases some cancers just go away on their own, without any type of treatment. This phenomena has been seen in instances of melanomas, neuroblastoma and kidney cancers. Most cancers are treated early when detected, so we are forced to consider the possibility that if less cancers are detected, less would be treated and we would have many more spontaneously cured. Currently, these spontaneous cures are considered oddities, but maybe if more cancers were not treated, or even detected, more would just disappear.
Researchers in Norway have begun to ask this question about current detection and treatment of breast cancer. They have published a study in “The Archives of Internal Medicine” that suggests that even invasive cancers may sometimes disappear spontaneously without treatment and in more significant numbers than ever guessed.
Robert A. Smith, director of breast cancer screening at the American Cancer Society has said, “Their simplification of a complicated issue is both overreaching and alarming,” He feels that large-scale breast cancer screening must continue to be made available to all women. He feels that these finding have no practical applications because no one knows whether a detected cancer will disappear or continue to spread or kill.
However, Robert M. Kaplan, the chairperson of the department of health services at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, does not agree. He is persuaded by the analysis. Dr.