Letter: Beware mammogram sales pitch
Sallee Ann Ruibal’s feature (2/11) about mammography at Valley View Hospital is poor journalism, pure and simple. Yes, routine mammography saves some lives and new equipment leading to earlier detection may well save a few more.
But, many of these cancers would never cause real harm and medicine is not yet good at distinguishing the most dangerous cancers from the larger group of less dangerous ones. Thus, mammography leads to somewhere between two and 10 women getting unnecessary radiation, chemotherapy and surgery for each life saved, much like PSA tests (which also save some lives) do for men regarding prostate cancer.
Men, however, are generally informed about risks and benefits of PSA testing and prostate cancer treatment and are encouraged to make informed decisions. Women are simply told they need regular mammograms and made to feel incompetent or irresponsible for choosing otherwise.
Valley View representatives are mainstream with their sales pitch for routine mammography, and we shouldn’t blame them much. Medicine has become a competitive business and Valley View must pay for all that new equipment to compete. Consequently, they sell their product without questioning themselves.
But Sallee Ann Ruibal is a journalist. It’s her job to dig deeper. Reporting Valley View’s sales pitch as if it was undisputed fact is lazy, even negligent journalism and a real disservice to her female readers. Women deserve opportunities to make informed choices every bit as much as their male counterparts.
By the way, my wife had a mammogram at Valley View 10 days before this article was published and contrary to the sales pitch Ruibal passed off as journalism, she did not get her results that same day. She’s still waiting for a postcard.