Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer

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The New York TimesIn an opinion piece in The New York Times, Peggy Orenstein writes that she “used to believe that a mammogram saved my life.” In 1996, when she was 35, a mammogram revealed that she had breast cancer.

Now, however, she questions that belief in light of recent studies about the life-saving efficacy of cancer screening. She cites a study of screening-induced treatment, co-authored by Dartmouth’s H. Gilbert Welch and published last fall in the New England Journal of Medicine. Welch, a professor of medicine at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, “estimates that only 3 to 13 percent of women whose cancer was detected by mammograms actually benefited from the test,” Orenstein writes.

“As study after study revealed the limits of screening—and the dangers of overtreatment—a thought niggled at my consciousness,” Orenstein says. “How much had my mammogram really mattered?”

Read the full story, published 4/26/13 by The New York Times.