Our patients will talk to their doctors and their health professionals requesting advice and guidance, and the professionals will do their best to determine what course of action is in the best interests of their particular patients. And, as is frequently the case, those recommendations will be based in no small part on personal preferences, assumptions and beliefs based on experience (“remember the anecdote” is a theme that runs through medical practice) because the science and the experts are not sending clear messages.
…. our science has failed us regarding some aspects of the prevention and early detection of cancer. We clearly need better direction and better information when it comes to screening for certain cancers, in particular breast and prostate cancers. (Cervical cancer screening is a welcome exception where the evidence is strong that less frequent screening works. But try telling that to a medical and patient community that has been raised on the message that the annual Pap test is gospel.)
As we go forward, we must allow the lessons of the past to inform the research of the future, especially for the prevention and early detection of cancer. If we fail to heed that simple, straight forward message then we will have only ourselves to blame.