Breast cancer

Breast cancer - Screening of asymptomatic women using...

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Screening of asymptomatic women using Mammograms Bayes Law and a cost/benefit analysis There are many misconceptions about the usefulness of mammograms, as well as a considerable amount of misleading information that has been propagated by advocates of mammography. Misconceptions: The following facts are not in dispute. a) Mammograms are used for early diagnosis of breast cancer. They do not reduce the risk of contracting breast cancer, nor do they cure breast cancer. In fact, exposure to X-rays has been shown to cause cancer, so the procedure can induce cancer in some previously healthy women. The exact risk of contracting cancer in this way is small and not well quantified. However, it is believed that of every 10,000 women who begin routine mammography screening at age 40, between 2 and 4 will develop radiation-induced breast cancer, and 1 will die. b) Breast cancer is not the leading cause of death for women. Cardiovascular disease is. Even among cancers, lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer. c) The media and National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations often quote the statistic (to quote from a sheet I obtained this morning from the UVA hospital) that “One out of nine women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime – a risk that was one out of 14 in 1960.” This is very misleading assessment of the risk. The figure one out of nine is for women who live to be 85 years old, an age most women do not attain. Ductal carcinoma in situ, a particular variety of breast cancer commonly found in younger women, often does not progress. In cases where there is no progression, the carcinoma may be harmless. Many dangerous breast cancers developed by elderly women (and breast cancer incidence increases substantially with age) will advance so slowly as not to be the cause of death. It is believed the main reason the breast cancer rate has increased since 1960 is that mammograms have revealed breast cancers that might have otherwise gone undetected because the cancers were benign or because women died before the cancer could progress to the point of being detected by older
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This note was uploaded on 03/01/2012 for the course ECON 371 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at UVA.

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Breast cancer - Screening of asymptomatic women using...

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