Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Skin Cancer

I just found out I have skin cancer. Maybe I shouldn't have had a biopsy done on that tumor?

This article makes the argument that we can actually screen too often. Because once you have find a tumor you have to operate, and since people die during operations all the time, some people may well have been better off not knowing they had a tumor.

During his 14-year career at Dartmouth, Black has become nationally known and respected as one of the most vocal radiologists when it comes to questioning screening tests. He has coauthored numerous papers on the topic, often with Welch, and served on several National Cancer Institute (NCI) committees, including the 1993 International Workshop on Screening for Breast Cancer, which concluded that there is no proven benefit from mammography for women in their forties.

In his book, Welch offers some advice to those who are concerned about being overdiagnosed. Probably the best way to minimize the harmful effects of screening is to be willing to take some timeÂ? with the small, questionable abnormalities, he writes. Even when 'cancer' is agreed on, it may make sense to wait and be sure the cancer is really growing.Â? Watchful waiting, as the wait-and see strategy is called, can be hard for patients and doctors alike because in some ways, just like screening, watchful waiting is a gamble.

Hopefully when I go to my dermatology appointment they won't kill me with some treatment.

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