Push Back Against Anti-Screening Misinformation

I’m speaking at the ACR’s National Conference on Breast Cancer this week and am honored to be on the same program as one of my mentors – Dr. Dan Kopans. I was a fellow in Dan’s division at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) when the original Canadian National Breast Screening Study results were published. I watched Dan work tirelessly to publicize the significantly flawed study design, everything from lack of randomization to poor mammogram quality, against a tidal wave of negativity about mammography. It is surreal that 20 years later we are still battling the effects of the misinformation generated by those results. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but given the benefits of mammography, and the relatively low cost, compared to our national health care spending, I wonder why there is such a sustained attack on the program. Add to that last week’s decision by the MedCAC not to recommend CMS coverage of screening for lung cancer with CT, even though the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force gave it a Grade B, and I am really wondering whether there is a prejudice against screening with imaging?

As radiologists, we have a huge responsibility to push back on these types of decisions. Our patients, as we heard from the Leapfrog Group’s CEO Leah Binder at last week’s AMCLC, are our largest payer group. Don’t they deserve to know the facts? Think about how you can connect with your medical and patient community and tell them the reasons these screening programs are vital population health tools. Nobody else is going to do this for us.

Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR

 

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