Women Informed Supported Empowered (WISE)
#BeW I S E is a woman’s health initiative with an urgent public health mission — to ensure all women are properly informed about serious potential harms of breast cancer screening.
Conflicts of interest and well-funded marketing campaigns have created an imbalance of information — promoting a one-sided story of “life-saving” benefits of mammography while ignoring or downplaying serious harms.
Key points of a recent article published in Psycholgy Today, Oct 2022, The Harms of Cancer Screening They Don’t WarnYou About
Hospitals and doctors fail to fully inform potential patients:
- Cancer screening can lead to harm as well as provide benefit, but doctors and screening providers fail to warn about the risk.
- Advanced screening finds many earlier smaller cancers that are “overdiagnosed,” and would never cause the patient any harm.
- The diagnosis “You have cancer” leads many to choose more aggressive and risky surgery than their particular case requires.
- Those surgeries cause harm, ranging from minor issues to death itself, and cost the health-care system billions of dollars.
Inspired by thousands of women’s personal experiences and shocking discoveries following a diagnosis of DCIS, also known as “Stage Zero” Breast Cancer, #BeWISE seeks to spare thousands of women world-wide annually from harm due to being uninformed or misinformed.
#BeWISE utilizes videos and info-graphics to break down real science into simple, no-nonsense chunks.
Women are encouraged to become their own best health-care advocates by being well-informed on the following topics:
- Actual vs. Perceived Risk of Breast Cancer
- Potential Harms of Screening Mammography
- Overdiagnosis & Overtreatment
- DCIS (Stage Zero Breast Cancer)
- Options for Breast Imaging
- Nutrition & Lifestyle Risk Reduction/Prevention Strategies
Actual vs Perceived Risk of Breast Cancer
How many women are uninformed, misinformed, and confused? Women’s perceptions do not match scientific data. Statistics can be misleading.
Women may hear…
“Regular mammograms reduce breast cancer deaths by 20%.”
Sounds pretty good…but how many lives do they really save?
Only 1 in 1,000!
Here is an excellent short video explaining this:
Potential Harms of Screening Mammography
Having a mammogram — or not — should be a personal decision based on balanced, unbiased information which weighs both the benefits and harms. No one should ever feel pressured, intimidated, bullied or shamed for choosing NOT to have a mammogram.
Yet health-care providers, charities, celebrities, and the media are constantly reminding, persuading, encouraging, and even brainwashing women into getting mammograms.
How can women make a truly informed decision?
Two important documents created by Breast Cancer Action, an exemplary nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to unbiased information:
- How Routine Mammography Screening Leads to Overdiagnosis & Overtreatment
- Should I Get a Mammogram? is an online brochure explaining overdiagnosis, overtreatment, false positives, and false negatives.
The Harding Center for Risk Literacy created a “fact box ” which illustrates benefits and harms of early detection of breast cancer by mammography screening.
Breast Cancer Update—1000 Person Tool (Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care): Shows graphs of outcomes of screening mammography for different age groups
Mammography for Breast Cancer Screening: Harm/Benefit Analysis, NBCC:
“In terms of absolute numbers based on the USPSTF analysis, for every 1000 women aged 50-74 years screened every two years for 10 years, there will be 953 false positives and 146 unnecessary biopsies will be conducted. When one includes women 40 and up, the number of false positives climbs to 1,529 with 213 unnecessary biopsies.
Another important harm of screening is overdiagnosis and, consequently, overtreatment. The results from randomized clinical trials reveal that between 11 and 22% of all identified breast cancers, including ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), are overdiagnosed . Detecting, removing, and treating breast cancers that would never have spread to other parts of the body does not save any lives but does impose harm. Until researchers are able to determine which breast cancers will eventually spread and reduce quality of life or result in death, overdiagnosis will continue to be a concern of the current screening technologies.
In terms of absolute numbers of individuals overdiagnosed by screening mammography based on the USPSTF analysis, for every 1000 women aged 50-74 years screened every two years for 10 years, a total of 19 women will be overdiagnosed, and this number climbs to 21 for comparable screening for women 40-74 years of age.
Another risk of routine mammography is associated with exposure to radiation. Computational modeling studies predict that between 2 and 11 women out of every 100,000 undergoing routine mammography screening will die as a result of radiation-induced cancer with the incidence highest in women who begin getting annual mammograms in their 40s and lowest in the women who begin getting mammograms biennially in their 50s .6“
Watch NBCC videos explaining screening and mammography here.
Mammography Screening Is a Failed Experiment by John Horgan, May 12, 2023 (in response to the US Preventative Services Task Force Draft Recommendations to lower the screening age to start at 40):
“Moreover, mammograms can lead to false positives and an even more insidious problem, overdiagnosis. A false positive can be overturned by a biopsy, but not overdiagnosis, which occurs when screening detects tumors and other anomalies that never would have compromised health if left alone. Overdiagnosis often leads to unnecessary treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
The Preventive Services Task Force asserts that the benefits of mammography, which ideally detects cancer early when it is more treatable, outweigh harms stemming from false positives and overdiagnosis. But the alleged benefits of screening appear only in studies that measure breast-cancer mortality, which does not capture harm stemming from overdiagnosis.”
Mammography – Does it save lives? | The USPSTF is incorrect | I review ALL the data
MUST WATCH video by Dr. Vinay Prasad who makes the case: mammography screening does not save lives when “all-cause mortality” and overdiagnosis are faactored in:
What If Everything Your Doctors Told You About Breast Cancer Was Wrong? For years, scientists have known that mammograms are largely ineffective. Why can’t we get that message across?
The Upside to Fewer Cancer Screenings in 2020: Screenings save lives, but can do serious harm too
“A recent Canadian trial reports breast cancer over-diagnosis rates of up to 55 per cent, from routine screening mammograms.” – Routine mammograms do not save lives: The research is clear
“Communication Between Patients and Providers and Informed Decision Making,” by Joann G. Elmore, Pamela S. Ganschow and Berta M. Geller, Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs, 2010. An examination of why informed decision making is difficult to carry out in cases of DCIS and suggestions for ways to communicate information about the diagnosis and treatment of DCIS.
A fantastic New Zealand investigation by a journalist discussing the issue. Please watch the video here: 3D Investigates: Breast screening – the truth
Cancer-Rose, an organization in France created a leaflet and video to inform women: Breast Cancer Screening: A DECISION THAT BELONGS TO EVERY WOMAN
Must-see video: The Little Known Truth About Mammograms
#AdamRuinsEverything and Joann Elmore, director of the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program explain this not-so-funny topic.
“Turns out, mammograms save fewer lives than you think…”
9 out of 10 Women Misinformed About Mammograms
Dr. Michael Gregor has made a series of 14 videos explaining the pros and cons of mammography. Women need to take the time to understand this:
Dr. Pam Popper shares about the importance of women being properly informed about mammograms, breast cancer and DCIS:
A new book, Conspiracy of Hope: The Truth About Breast Cancer Screening, states: “For decades, women have been told that mammograms save lives. Yet many scientists say that this is in fact not true. Conspiracy of Hope reveals how breast cancer screening was introduced in the US before there was any good evidence it made any difference, and an unfounded belief in early detection caught on quickly in Canada and other developed countries. Today the evidence is starkly clear. Screening does more harm than good. Still women, and their doctors, continue to buy into a myth perpetuated by greed, fear, and wishful thinking.
Watch this interview with author, Renee Pellerin:
DCIS — “Stage Zero” Breast Cancer
“DCIS is a prime example of potential overtreatment. DCIS is usually treated similar to invasive breast cancer with surgery, radiation and hormone-blocking medicines.
Despite newer research concluding these interventions provide no difference in survival, aggressive ‘cancer’ treatments remain the ‘standard of care,’ and many women world-wide are faced with the life-long emotional, physical and financial consequences of aggressive treatments.
Estimates suggest that mammographic screening has resulted in overdiagnosis and overtreatment in over 1 million women in the United States in the past 30 years. The majority of this is due to the overtreatment of DCIS.” – PRECISION (PREvent ductal Carcinoma In Situ Invasive Overtreatment Now), an international research project funded by Cancer Research UK
Dr. Michael Gregor explains Overtreatment of DCIS:
Culture of Fear Needs a Paradigm Shift
“There’s a hysteria around breast cancer. The extremism that sometimes comes into play in DCIS treatment decision making is a ‘cultural problem.’ This is not a life-threatening problem.” –– Dr. Anne Partridge, MD, MPH, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
“Because of the noninvasive nature of DCIS, coupled with its favorable prognosis, strong consideration should be given to remove the anxiety-producing term “carcinoma” from the description of DCIS.” – National Institutes of Health, State of the Science, 2009
Is Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) really cancer?
Dr. Susan Love sheds light on DCIS:
Facts about DCIS:
- DCIS stands for Ductal Carcinoma in Situ
- It is different from INVASIVE breast cancer
- Mainly found on screening mammograms
- Affects 60,000+ women annually world-wide
- Most women are healthy with no signs or symptoms
- “Standard of care” treatments are extremely aggressive and one-size fits all — similar to invasive breast cancer
- New research indicates vast overdiagnosis and overtreatment for up to 80%
If you are diagnosed with DCIS:
- Take time to gather information.
- Get a 2nd Pathology Opinion
- Review DCIS — Beyond One Size Fits All
- Ask your doctor if a new bio-marker test can be ordered from your biopsy sample BEFORE making any treatment decisions. Read my blog post: A New Bio-marker Test for DCIS = Peace of Mind for Thousands of Women
- If DCIS is “low-risk,” consider a clinical trial comparing active monitoring to surgery: COMET (US) LORIS (UK) LORD (Netherlands)
- Watch video of Dr. Shelley Hwang and Patient Advocate Donna Pinto:
Options for Breast Imaging
- Read : Bye-Bye Mammograms: Hello SonoCiné Ultrasound
- Learn about breast density — one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer. Visit Are You Dense?
- Read: All Women Should Have Access To Ultrasound Screening For Breast Cancer
- Review studies on Mammograms, Ultrasound, MRI and Thermography: Imaging and Monitoring
- Are Mammograms a Scam? A Breast Expose’
- Did you know –-Mammograms miss 40% of INVASIVE CANCER?!?!
Nutrition & Lifestyle Risk Reduction/Prevention Strategies
- Food: A Powerful Solution for Disease Prevention, The Angiogenesis Foundation
- Foods for Cancer Prevention Fact Sheet, “Let’s Beat Breast Cancer: A 4 Pronged Approach,” Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
- Holistic Health, DCIS 411
- Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, Dr. Dean Ornish
- Prevention/Risk Reduction, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
- Nutrition & Lifestyle, Dr. Deanna Attai
- Proactive Breast Health Club, DCIS Redefined: Dilemmas, Choices & Integrative Solutions
Please consider signing and sharing this petition: Inform Women about Mammography Harms Too / Insurance for Automated Ultrasound Needed!
DCIS 411 Founder Donna Pinto shares her story:
Is Stage Zero breast cancer really cancer? 7 ON YOUR SIDE investigates the controversy
‘Over-diagnosis and over-treatment of breast cancer is a travesty in women’s healthcare’ My Story: Donna Pinto, Independent.ie Health & Wellbeing
Even small contributions will go a long way in supporting this campaign to educate millions of women world-wide. Click here to DONATE — Thank you!!!
Please consider signing and sharing this petition: Inform Women about Mammography Harms Too / Insurance for Automated Ultrasound Needed!
Please share #BeW I S E with women you care about! Thank You!!
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Hi Donna! This link does not work: Food for Life Cancer Project, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Thanks for keeping up the good fight!
Thanks so much Susan! I fixed it!
I am 62 years old. Noticed a lump the size if a popcorn kernal in my left breast 1cm from the nipple at the 1:00 position in November 2018. Had a 3-d mamogram which showed nothing although I had a lump. It was followed by a ultrasound and they could see a sideways oval black void. I decided not to get the biopsy and to just watch it for a while. No other symptoms than the small lump was present. Had a repeat mammography and ultrasound on 5/16/20. This new facility had my prior reports and CD film. With the second screening I was told to do the core needle biopsy. I was diagnosed with having DCIS “and” invasive mucinous carcinoma of the same biopsied lump on 5/26/20. QUESTION: How can I have both diagnosese from the “one” biopsy of the “left” breast? My right breast was not biopsied as the mamagram was normal. (I have always had reported that I have dense breast and from age 35 to in my late 40’s was given a yearly mammogram.) My last mamogram was in 2008 and then I stopped all screening case the compression got more vigorous and intense and I just could not withstand the agressive pressures they would instill stating that, “well, you have dense breast so we must compress a little bit more than usual.” I was not screened again until 2018 when I found the left breast lump. They also say the lump (11mm) was at the 12 o’clock position this time in 2020 instead of 1 o’clock as in 2018. Hmmm…guess it moves. I am Lunimal “A” with ER/PR positive and HER-2 negative; Ki-67 index 2+; IHC score 1+, and the mucin is >90 percent. No necrosis. Lymphnovascular Invasion: Absent. I have not moved forward for any traditional treatment as the wish to pursue radiation and with Hormone suppressive drugs. (I have Automimmune Disease (positive ANA) and it presents ad Raynaud’s Syndrome in my hands. It this time the Raynaud’s has greatly subsided since I am presently unemployed and no longer stressed by my paralegal job.) I really need some direction, as I plan to just continue with my new diet, lifestyle changes and exercise program, (I like running sprints at a local track) but don’t plan to see the Doctor who offered me this confusing diagnosis as she says what I read/watch on the internet is all quacks. (Note: I read peer review articles from Harvard Medical and John Hopkins so I’m not sure how she arrived at her conclusion other than she is upset I did not quickly trust her and her plan of treatment she outlined which is a Lumpectomy or if she feels if needed a Mastectomy with removal of several lymph nodes along with radiation and hormone suppressant drugs. I will not engage in such a barberic form of treatment for my otherwise odd diagnosis. Please advise. Thank you.
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