Thursday, 12 April 2007

Advances in breast cancer detection

I've been in my present job for something like nine or ten years. In that time my then CEO's wife and two colleagues have died from breast cancer, and at the moment two colleagues' wives and another colleague have been diagnosed and are undergoing treatment. Yet another is waiting for an appointment at the hospital for further screening. All this out of a group of 50 to 60 people. It is utterly horrific.

So when I was yet again looking at Dr Dork's Grand Rounds, this post about detecting cancer early (two posts really) by Respectful Insolence caught my eye. It's long and involved but well worth reading if it interests you at all. It tells of how the recent advances in early screening can distort the apparent advances in treatment outcomes, and questions whether early screening is always an advantage.

I still think back to when the head of department of cancer sciences phoned one evening to ask me to apply for a job that was going. There was a situation developing in my present job which made me feel it wouldn't be fair to leave, so I didn't follow it through. Sometimes I wish I had.


  1. A.,
    Recent article about this as well, in the Economist. Not nearly as detailed as the posts you cite, but good summary for reasonably well educated lay people.

  2. Thank you for pointing me in the direction of the Economist janeway. I had thought it was subscription only and haven't looked for a very long time. There are some fascinating articles there.

  3. A.,
    Some of the articles on their website are subscription only. I have to admit that I go to the science and technology section first, then books and art, then all the other stuff.

  4. Breast Cancer charities
    Common Breast Cancer Myths

    The first myth pertaining to this disease is that it only affects women.

    Second myth that is associated with this disease is that if one has found a lump during an examination, it is cancer.

    Third is that it is solely hereditary

    The next myth associated with breast cancer is downright ridiculous. Would you believe, that in this day and age, some individuals still think that breast cancer is contagious?

    Conversely, some individuals foolishly believe that breast size determines whether or not one gets cancer.

    Finally, another myth that is associated with this disease is that it only affects older people. This is not so. Although the chance of getting breast cancer increases with age, women as young as 18 have been diagnosed with the disease.

    You can find a number of helpful informative articles on Breast Cancer charities at

    Breast Cancer charities


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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