November 23, 2009

Both Sides: If clinic is truly science-based, it can’t ignore the facts

By Kelley Luckstein

For months now, Mayo Clinic has led the charge toward reforming health care by encouraging evidence-based medicine. Mayo has argued that it obtains better outcomes for its patients at less cost by using empirically-supported treatments. That is a fancy way of saying that when a Mayo doctor selects a certain treatment, he or she generally does so based on carefully controlled studies, the larger the better…


So it was disappointing to see the Clinic turn its back on its own advice last week, after a widely respected body concluded there was little net benefit in recommending that women under 50 get mammograms. I won't pretend to be an expert on cancer, but the US Preventive Services Task Force is a panel whose findings have long been considered the gold standard when it comes to surveying the broad span of science on the effectiveness of a certain treatment. Its work on mammogram effectiveness precedes the current debate over health care by years…

Mayo's Dr. Sandhya Pruthi added "there are many stories about younger women who have found cancer early as a result of screening."

I'm not sure why she made mention of stories. Dr. Pruthi is surely a talented clinician, but in supporting mammograms for women in their 40s here she is citing anecdotes, not data.

Post-Bulletin, Opinion by Paul Scott, 11/23/09

Tags: Breast Cancer, breast cancer screening, Cancer, mammograms

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