Do we have a cancer epidemic? Or an epidemic of overdiagnosis? – The Washington Post

Further to my post yesterday (here), an interesting counterpoint to the increase in cancer rates in developed countries, with some graphs that contrast diagnosis rates (green line) versus mortality rates (red line). Quote:

Does overdiagnosis matter? There is sometimes a “better safe than sorry” mentality, that suggests erring on the side of caution and going ahead with treatment. Playing it “safe,” however, can come with its own risks. “The downsides of overdiagnosis include the negative effects of unnecessary labelling, the harms of unneeded tests and therapies, and the opportunity cost of wasted resources that could be better used to treat or prevent genuine illness,” write the BMJ [British Medical Journal] researchers.

A rise in cancer diagnosis is certainly alarming, but not necessarily because it suggests we have a greater risk of dying from cancer. The odds of that happening, at least in the United States, are on the decline. What we do see is a growth of cancer diagnosis that could, on the balance, be doing more harm than good.

Do we have a cancer epidemic? Or an epidemic of overdiagnosis? – The Washington Post.

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