The American Cancer Society Reverses Its Strong Position on Mammograms and PSA Testing (Jon McDougall, MD)
Wednesday November 4th, 2009
Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society told the New York Times on Wednesday, October 21, 2009, “We don't want people to panic, but I'm admitting that American medicine has overpromised when it comes to screening. The advantages to screening have been exaggerated.”
How does your personal physician communicate confidence and comfort to you now? “I am sorry I recommended a mammogram that resulted in an unnecessary amputation of your breast?” How consoling do these words feel, “It is a shame you haven’t had an erection in the past 10 years due to the PSA test I insisted you get, that led to debilitating prostate treatments – I hope you and your wife understand I was just following orders from the American Cancer Society?” Tens of millions of women and men have been irreparably damaged by the universal and enthusiastic recommendations for “early detection programs,” also known as “screening,” from their personal physicians, neighborhood breast and prostate clinics, community hospitals, national medical associations and medical societies over the past four decades. Now, all that the faithful patients get is a timid apology from the American Cancer Society, evoked by an article in the October 21, 2009 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association, titled “Rethinking Screening for Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer.” Since, in my opinion, this admission of guilt is insufficient, what would be fair retribution for the harms done?