Are Breast Cancer Survival Rate Claims Being Exaggerated?

Woman getting mammogram

Woman getting mammogram

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the breast cancer charity that brought the world the pink ribbon, is exaggerating the benefits of mammography while minimizing its harms, according to a report in HealthDay News.

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The organization stated in a 2011 advertisement that the five-year survival rate for breast cancer when caught early is 98 percent, while it is only 23 percent if not caught early.

“The survival statistics they present are eye-catching and compelling. They imply that a woman would be crazy and irresponsible if they didn’t go for screening,” said Dr. Steve Woloshin, co-author of the article challenging the charity. “But the statistics are deceptive.”

What are the real survival rates…and the real dangers?

According to Woloshin’s commentary,  a woman in her 50s who goes for regular mammograms for 10 years will actually only cut her chance of dying by a fraction of a percentage point – for every 10,000 women who are screened 7 deaths will be prevented.