How Effective is Breast Cancer Early Detection?

“How Effective is Breast Cancer Early Detection?’” ABC News.

ABC News’ Chief Health and Medical editor Dr. Richard Besser examines early detection and prevention of breast cancer. He interviews author Peggy Orenstein and Dr. Laura Esserman.

Peggy Orenstein, who has been diagnosed twice with breast cancer, initially believed that the mammogram she had early on had been instrumental in saving her life. But 16 years later, in spite of that early detection her breast cancer returned. She learned that between 1987 and 2010, as mammograms became the focus of the pink ribbon campaign, the rate of mammograms doubled. Yet breast cancer deaths decreased by only about 2 percent per year. It didn’t add up, and she wanted to know why.

Dr. Laura Essermman, who heads advisory panel calling for sweeping changes on how we think about, detect, and treat breast cancer states that, “What we had hoped with the early detection concept is that we would be able to screen our way into a cure….The problem with doing lots of mammograms is the more you screen the more you’re going to find. But 75 percent of the biopsies turn out to be nothing, and sometimes we’re finding precancerous lesions or lesions that we call cancer that, in fact, probably have a much lower risk of progressing than we had thought previously. Three million women have gotten a breast cancer diagnosis for a lesion that would never have hurt them. More »

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