by Martin J. Yaffe, PhD, C.M, Senior Scientist and Tory Family Chair in Cancer Research, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Professor, Depts. Medical Biophysics and Medical Imaging, University of Toronto, Director, Smarter Imaging Program, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
Several times per year an article appears in the popular media, usually referring to a “new study” demonstrating that breast cancer screening is ineffective. And as has happened now, with the publication by Jorgensen et al. and the resulting media coverage, I am asked to comment on the “debate regarding the value of screening”. In fact, there really is no debate about the science, if one restricts oneself to studies that have been carefully conducted using appropriate methodology and analysis. The debate is really about values (those of women, health providers and government) in preventive medicine. Screening is expensive. Is the cost justified by the saving of lives and are the negative aspects of screening – abnormal recalls and negative biopsies – acceptable?