Don't Slam Canada For Mammogram Study

“Don’t slam Canada for mammogram study.” By H. Gilbert Welch, CNN.

(CNN) — We all like to think medical care is about science, but too often it’s about professional interests. Last week, a 25-year follow-up of the Canadian National Breast Screening Study was published — one of the eight major randomized trials of screening mammography. The headline was simple: Mammogram screenings don’t reduce cancer death rates.

The reaction by some American mammographers was predictable — discredit the study. It’s predictable because it is exactly what they did when they didn’t like the first findings of the study published more than 20 years ago. The effort by the American College of Radiology to discredit the Canadian trial relies on two allegations: The investigators were cheating, and Canada is a third world country. Armed with these two allegations, the mammographers followed a well-worn strategy: Make the allegations often and loudly enough and maybe they will stick. Too much energy has been devoted to discrediting the Canadian study and not enough to understanding it.

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