Komen Ads Overstate Benefits Of Mammograms, Professors Charge

Two Dartmouth health policy experts criticize the national breast cancer charity for using misleading statistics to promote breast cancer screening.

Medpage Today: BMJ OpEd Says Komen Ads False
The world's largest breast cancer charity used misleading statistics and deceptive statements about mammography to promote breast cancer awareness and screening, authors of an opinion piece asserted. In promotional material for the 2011 Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Susan G. Komen for the Cure suggested large differences in breast cancer survival among women who undergo screening mammography and those who do not. Specifically, the advertisement stated a 5-year survival of 98% when breast cancer is caught early and 23% when it is not. … "This benefit of mammography looks so big that it is hard to imagine why anyone would forgo screening. She'd have to be crazy," Steven Woloshin, MD, and Lisa M. Schwartz, MD, of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt. and the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Lebanon, N.H., wrote in an article published online in BMJ (Bankhead, 8/2).

CNN: Professors: Komen Overstating Benefits Of Mammograms
A national breast cancer charity is being accused of using misleading statistics to convince women to have mammograms, according to a paper published Thursday in the British Medical Journal. Susan G. Komen for the Cure's mammography campaign during breast cancer awareness month last October has come under fire from professors Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, who say the foundation overstated the benefits of the procedure and totally ignored the risks. "The ad implies that mammograms have a huge effect, but the only evidence that they use is the five-year survival rate for breast cancer when caught early is 98% and when it's not, 23%," Woloshin said. "The problem is that in the context of screening survival, statistics are meaningless" (Young, 8/3).

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