"Relaxed" guidelines and breast cancer awareness

I'm glad Hadassah is encouraging women to start annual breast exams at 40 and not follow the new "relaxed" guidelines. "Relaxed" is what I would call "evidence-based," but never mind.

The reason, shared with us by Allison Hoffman in Tablet's The Scroll, is that "Ashkenazi Jewish women are about five times likelier than everyone else to have the genetic abnormality that can lead to breast cancer." Perhaps Hadassah and the Susan G. Kornen Breast Cancer Foundation ("who has given Hadassah about $335,000 in grants for breast-cancer awareness") would care to explain to those Ashkenazi Jewish women why they are recommending annual breast exams that lead to unneeded biopsies and unjustified cancer diagnoses. Or maybe Ashkenazi Jewish women just don't care about those things?

One wonders if we need just as much awareness of false positives, the danger of unjustified diagnosis, and the unintended effects of massive screening programs as we do awareness of breast cancer. Maybe those of us who care about justifying medical interventions on the basis of evidence should come up with walks and ribbons and foundations too.

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