Do Risks of Screening Outweigh Benefits?


Our Executive Vice President of Mission, Andy Miller, interviewed our board member, Dr. Craig Nichols about risks of cancer screening outweighing the benefits.

Earlier today an article came out from the New York Times regarding a supposed shift in policy at the American Cancer Society in regards to screening guidelines. We felt it important to inform our constituents of the official stance from the American Cancer Society on screenings’ risk versus benefit. Below is an excerpt and link to the full statement.

“Today’s New York Times article ‘In Shift, Cancer Society Has Concerns on Screening’ indicates that the American Cancer Society is changing its guidance on cancer screening to emphasize the risk of overtreatment from screening for breast, prostate, and other cancers.

“While the advantages of screening for some cancers have been overstated, there are advantages, especially in the case of breast, colon and cervical cancers. Mammography is effective, mammograms work and women should continue get them. Seven clinical trials tell us that screening with mammography and clinical breast exam do reduce risk of breast cancer death. This test is beneficial in that it saves lives, but it is not perfect. It can miss cancers that need treatment, and in some cases finds disease that does not need treatment. Understanding these limitations will help researchers develop better screening tests. The American Cancer Society stands by its recommendation that women age 40 and over should receive annual mammography, and women at high risk should talk with their doctors about when screening should begin based on their family history.”

Read the official full press release.

If you have any further questions about screening and how to talk to your doctor about your risks please contact our LIVESTRONG SurvivorCare Program at 1-866-673-7205 or go online


  1. Brienne Fisher says:

    As a survivor of metastatic rectal cancer that was diagnosed when I was 39, I’ll always be a strong advocate for earlier colonoscopy screening.

  2. I’d rather be screened, have treatment and be told my Cancer was “clinically insignificant”, than not be screened and take a chance that my Cancer is not worth treating.

  3. Jim Miksch says:

    I am a prostate cancer survivor that agrees with Zero that prostate cancer testing saves lives. The real issue is finding a new test that distinguishes slow-growing tumors from rapidly growing ones.

  4. Women Care says:

    Ya I do agree with you that Mammography is effective. Mammograms work and women should continue get them.

  5. Julia says:

    I was diagnosed with Stage 0 cancer and subsequent surgery revealed local mets and Stage 1 cancer. Was I overtreated? No way. Surgery probably saved my life. I have yet to hear any survivor complain about ‘overtreatment.” If women stop having mammograms because they are considered ‘ineffective’ a certain percentage of women will be ‘undertreated.’

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