Researchers looked at international studies on half a million women. They found that for every 2,000 women screened over a decade, one will have her life prolonged, but 10 will have to undergo unnecessary treatment. The report, published in the Cochrane Library, involved a review of breast cancer research papers from around the world. The scientists found mammograms did reduce the number of women dying from the disease. But they also discovered it was diagnosing women with breast cancer who would have survived without treatment, meaning they were undergoing unnecessary chemotherapy, radiotherapy or mastectomies. …. They also revealed a further 200 women out of every 2,000 experienced distress and anxiety because of false positives – a result that indicated a cancer was present but was later found to be wrong. (more info here)I was one of those ‘false positives’ and I underwent a double mastectomy for nothing… or maybe not… who knows? I’d had symptoms of something being wrong. I told my story at length last year (see A Tale of Two Titties) so I won’t bore you with it again. I think it will be up to individual women to decide whether or not they want to be screened, in the absence of any symptoms. Nearly eight years on I am very glad I did what I did.
If I’d actually had cancer after all, I probably would have fought the disease with all the means at my (and medicine’s) disposal – up to a point, though, ‘life at all costs’ is not a mantra of mine – but I hope I wouldn’t have been made to feel a failure if I’d died in the end. I’ve said it before, cancer is the only disease that makes people use words like ‘battle’ and ‘fight’. No one talks about ‘fighting heart disease’, do they?, and when the person dies they’re not said to have ‘lost their battle with heart disease’. Having a life-threatening illness is difficult enough without being made to feel as if one’s not trying hard enough. If you know someone who’s suffering from cancer, please be gentle with them and let them cope with it in their own way. Sometimes the body wins regardless of how strong the mind is.
Slapping the ‘cancer bullies’! Hello, Debra!