This week in a surprise letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association or JAMA the researchers who did an extensive 20 year survey of cancer survivors and screening tests for breast and prostate cancer found that the screening did not significantly affect survival. What they found was that screening led to finding of smaller tumors, which a lot of us have, many of which are transient and not cancerous. This then leads to over-treatment of early cancers which may, in the long run, have little effect on how long one lives. The premise of early screening for breast and prostate cancers is that if you catch the cancer in an early stage you can then do something about it, thus preventing early death due to cancer if caught too late. Great in theory but not so great in practice. Because the PSA test for prostate cancer and the mammogram in breast cancer has drawbacks and risks, particularly for mammograms and ionizing radiation damage to breast cells.
In aggressive breast tumors the mammograms might not catch the tumor in time before it spreads, same for the PSA test in prostate cancer because they can grow and metastasize quickly. What we are learning is that some tumors don't need to be treated and the immune system can just get rid of them by itself. Meaning that some cancers can go away without treatment. We are catching early tumors with screening which leads to over-treatment because many may just go away. What we aren't doing is reducing the deadly cancers by our current screening techniques. All of this has lead the American Cancer Society, a long time advocate of mammograms and PSA testing to change their tune in recommendations of these tests.
I cannot describe how BIG this report is. It says a couple of major things. One is that the ACS and AMA are both rethinking what they are recommending for early detection of breast and prostate cancer. Mammograms have been a topic of debate in it's ability to CAUSE cancer due to the ionizing radiation it emits and how effective a yearly mammogram truly is in saving your life. Also, men are having their prostates taken out, perhaps unnecessarily.
My general problem with screening tests is that was are looking for cancers. By this time, cancers are already there. What would be better is to educate the general public on what to do to prevent cancers from happening. Like ensure you get your vitamin D levels checked, to keep your CoQ10 levels up, to deal with earlier signs of hormone imbalance etc. Breast thermography which is FDA approved as an adjunct to mammograms can tell years before an actual tumor forms that there are problems in the breast. Here are some easy tips on preventing breast cancer. Another article I wrote on keeping your system balanced. The body is a complex organism and we generally have many warning signs that things are wrong before we get cancer. Start listening to your body. Don't forget to read how obesity is linked to cancer.Share on Facebook