How should we address breast cancer when norms continually change?

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Accompanying Photograph: Andy Katz/Demotix/Corbis

When faced with decisions about breast cancer treatment or screening, it can be hard to know what to think.

Gayle Sulik, The Guardian, Oct. 20, 2015

Three decades ago, researchers believed breast cancer was one disease, so it made sense to treat it that way. However, the usual battery of slash (surgery), burn (radiation) and poison (chemotherapy) didn’t always work and often caused irreparable damage, sometimes death.

Since then, the theory of breast cancer has been fine-tuned and revised. We know it’s several different types with multiple causes and progressions; that the harms of screening mammograms are greater, and benefits smaller, than once believed; that fewer radiation treatments can do the same job as more; that high-dose chemotherapy does more harm than good. This updated theory of breast cancer, amended with scientific research and clinical observation, helped to change many practices and protocols.

But the norms surrounding treatment and diagnosis have been slow to change, and new research can upend decades of conventional wisdom. When it comes to breast cancer, it can be hard to know what to think. Do I get screened or not, starting at what age, and for how long? If I have breast cancer, how aggressively should I treat it? What if I do nothing?

I can’t answer those questions definitively, and neither should anyone other than a well-informed member of a person’s healthcare team. But I can help put these decisions in perspective and explain why breast cancer is such a moving target.

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* GAYLE IN THE MEDIA *

"Seeing clearly through the pink haze" Toronto Sun

*Sad face*: Being happy does not help you live longer" New Scientist

How should we address breast cancer when norms continually change? The Guardian

Your Fun 'No Bra Day' Photos Are Overshadowing Terminal Breast Cancer Patients Broadly

Backlash against “pinkwashing” of breast cancer awareness campaigns BMJ

Breast Cancer to Rise 50 Percent by 2030? Hey, Not So Fast! Health News Review

Breast Cancer: The Flaws in the Cause iafrica.com

How to Make the Biggest Impact With Your Breast Cancer Donations Money

The Very Pink, Very Controversial Business of Breast Cancer Awareness Racked

NFL, Pink Ribbons Not Enough to Win over Women CNN

3 Questions We Need to Answer for Breast Cancer Awareness Month Chronicle of Philanthropy

The problem with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Women's Health Magazine

Pink Ribbon Envy: Living with an Uncool Cancer The Nib

A Year After Bombings, Some Say 'Boston Strong' Has Gone Overboard NPR, All Things Considered

Canadian Mammogram Study KCRW, NPR Affiliate

Time to Debunk the Mammography Myth CNN

Breast Cancer: Awareness, Activism & Pinkwashing NPR Charlotte

Buying Pink Al Jazeera's The Stream Watch »

The Pink Backlash Orlando Sentinel

Why Jolie's Test Costs So Much CNN

Preventative Mastectomies: Disease and Deception BlogTalkRadio

Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' KCRW

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer The New York Times Magazine.

The Story Behind the Pink Ribbon Campaign Sisters Talk Radio

WISH Interview Women's International Summit for Health

Making Cancer About The Patient, Not The Body Part CBS Pittsburgh

Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients USA Today

The perils of pink The Daily

Komen pink campaign creates breast-cancer blues for some Dallas Morning News

A yellow flag for the NFL's pink New York Daily

Gayle Sulik named #7 in SharecareNow’s Top 10 Online Influencers in Breast Cancer

Breast cancer cancer causes so easily derailed Philly Inquirer

Komen Charity Under Microscope for Funding, Science Reuters

The Fight Against Cancer - And Abortion? Salon.com

Susan G. Komen For the Cure defunds Planned Parenthood. In Deep with Angie Coiro

Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is there Pink Fatigue? NPR's All Things Considered

How is Breast Cancer Culture Undermining Women's Health? America’s Radio News Network

Pink Ribbon Culture and Breast Cancer The Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Big Business of Breast Cancer
Marie Claire

Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Crowd Out Other Diseases? Slate

Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red The Sacramento Bee

Get Your Pink Off Ottawa Citizen

Komen Pink Ribbons Raise Green and Questions USA Today

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