walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

more on mammograms

I don't get it. But hey, here's a good sense of the range of response. First, a fantastic display of innumeracy and failure to understand the true costs of treating as cancer something like LCIS or DCIS or whatever, with all the risks attendant on such treatment (which include death), when odds on, nothing was ever going to happen, except the person would eventually die of _something_.

It's from Lakoff:

http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/144177/47,000_women_could_die_as_a_result_of_the_new_mammogram_guidelines

Second, a letters to the editor collection to the NYT in the wake of their pair of editorials (which were both excellent, and I bought and am reading Aronowitz' book as a result of the op-ed):

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/21/opinion/l21cancer.html

The range here is better than Lakoff's foolishness; Lakoff is saying what virtually everyone center and slightly left of center is saying ("But how could it _possibly_ be a bad idea to _find_ and _treat_ CANCER! My God What Is the Matter With You!!!"), and which is only very marginally more sensible than what the right wing is saying ("Rationing! Soon they will euthanize you!"). The stupidest idea in the lettercol is the idea that you can somehow say no to the cascade after you start it with the mammogram. In theory? Sure. In practice? Oh, wow. Like holding back the tide.

Other sensible points -- made by people in health policy and by doctors -- include the dangers of radiation, the crappitude that is mammography as an effective screening device, and so forth. Best of all is this one:

"What has not been adequately explained are the other consequences of these false positives. How many of those 1,000 women die, and how many suffer greatly, as a result of needless surgery and toxic therapy? This crucial information is missing from every account I have read."

Thank you, David H. Raulet, "professor of molecular and cell biology in the Cancer Research Lab, University of California, Berkeley", and thank you, New York Times for printing his letter.

I would add to Professor Raulet's remarks that cancer != cancer, and the horror of millenia bears the same vague resemblance to breast cancer today that the wasting disease that was diabetes bears to what we call diabetes today, and the lethal killer that was high blood pressure bears to what we call high blood pressure today and so on and so forth, ad nauseum, I mean, seriously, retching and vomiting with disgust at how we can spend endless amounts of fear and angst and put ourselves through untold evils because we -might- possibly, in the future, be at risk of something really worth getting our knickers in a twist over.

Don't let me get started on PSA tests. Seriously.
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