Why Screen for Cancer?

This is from Robin Hanson, who also provides a brief literature review:

Wow.  While cancer screening does consistently lead to more cancer detection and more cancer treatment, it consistently doesn’t lead to lower mortality.

Comments (5)

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  1. Nancy says:

    Very interesting post.

  2. Virginia says:

    I guess the idea is that some cancers at go away on their own? Or that early detection doesn’t necessarily save people?

    This is a disappointing discovery.

  3. Linda Gorman says:

    Claims like this are surprising. They need checking.

    Sure enough, the one on breast cancer specifically states in the author’s conclusions that “screening is likely to reduce breast cancer mortality.” And, “The rtials were not powered to detect an effect on all-cause mortality…The complex designs and insufficient reporting precluded us from providing reliable estimates for all-cause mortality in the trials with suboptimal rendomisation.”

  4. Devon Herrick says:

    I wonder to what degree findings like this are skewed by prostate cancer. Many experts believe all but the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer (or when detected in younger men) are better left in place.

  5. Ken says:

    Thanks, Linda. I always appreciate your watchful eye on issues like this.