Not that you should take them as they are –
ANY BOOKS (MOVIES, STUDIES - and so on) –
SHOULD BE TESTED THROUGH YOUR OWN DEEP FEELINGS –
TO FIND YOUR TRUTH IN THEM…
Should I Be Tested for Cancer? : Maybe Not and Here's Why by H. Gilbert Welch
No study has confirmed that cancer screening extend lives., August 13, 2005
This is a very well written short book on the excessive use of cancer testing. The book is divided in two parts.
The first part explains the problems associated with the inaccuracy of cancer screening and its implications: painful over treatment including surgery.
The second part educates one on how to interpret cancer statistics so as not to be vulnerable to the positive media spin. It also educates as to the limit of research findings. The benefits of cancer screening are often statistically unfounded. This part also educates on how to manage your doctor so you don't get over tested.
If you combine the most technology and profit driven medical establishment with the most litigious society, you get a Perfect Storm for excessive cancer testing. That is what we got in the U.S. No doctor will ever get sued because he ordered a cancer test. But, he will if his patients get cancer, and he had not actively recommended a test. As a result, doctors don't take any chances and they scear us in taking many cancer screening test.
Cancer tests are deemed to be good for us. Supposedly, the earlier you catch cancer the greater the survival rate. Per the author that is nothing but a simple statistical flaw. We are now tested earlier, and our cancers are detected many years earlier. If you test a population of 50 year olds for prostate cancer, you get a higher survival rate at 5 years, then if you test a population of 70 year olds. Thus, the increase in 5 year survival rate means nothing. The author further adds that mortality rates (of cancer or other causes) has really not changed whether you get tested for cancer or not. Thus, PSA tests and mammograms really don't save lives. Also, cancer incidence has risen to supposedly epidemic levels. But, again this is just due to increase testing.
The standard path is to first take a really benign test whose result is more often than not inconclusive (radiologists often disagree). This leads to biopsies that often are inconclusive (pathologists often disagree too). But to remove the uncertainty, radical surgeries are often the next step. The intervention escalated from one level to the next in part because of the perceived threat of malpractice suit.
The author advances an excellent argument that the healthy would be better off without that much cancer screening. A lot of cancers that are now uncovered such as prostate cancers are benign and would not affect health or lifespan. Many more men die with prostate cancer than from prostate cancer. He calls those benign cancers a "cancer reservoir." The increasing sensitivity of tests uncovers more and more benign growth from our cancer reservoir. And, that really does not do anyone healthy any good. It leads to overly aggressive painful over treatment. At this pace, the entire male American population will have their prostate removed without gaining a day in lifespan, but with a marked increase in incontinence and impotence. This paragraph could be rewritten very much the same way for women regarding ductal carcinoma in situ, a most common but benign form of breast cancer (DCIS). These certainly don't warrant breast removal, but that's often what doctors do.
To become a well educated customer of medical services, I also strongly recommend two other excellent books. One is "The Last Well Person" by Nortin Hadler. This book extends the critique of the medical establishment not just to cancer screening, but to the treatment of cardiovascular disease, and everything else. The other is "Calculated Risks: How to know when numbers deceive you" by Gerd Gigerenzer.
This book explains in detail the logic and implication of Baye's Theorem. By doing so, it explains why PSA tests and mammograms are so inaccurate.