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The Big SqueezeA Social and Political History of the Controversial Mammogram$
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Handel Reynolds

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450938

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450938.001.0001

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Pulling the Plug on Granny

Pulling the Plug on Granny

(p.62) 6 Pulling the Plug on Granny
The Big Squeeze

Handel Reynolds

Cornell University Press

This chapter begins by detailing another controversy that mammography became embroiled in the fall of 2009. In October 2009, the American Cancer Society's chief medical officer Dr. Otis Brawley admitted in a New York Times interview that American medicine has overpromised when it comes to screening and that the advantages to screening have been exaggerated. This article, widely reported on in the lay press, drew renewed attention to one of the potential downsides (harms) of screening and forced the American Cancer Society (ACS) to acknowledge that its “one simple message (just do it!)” approach to mammography promotion may have done American women a disservice. The chapter then argues that this may be the last time there is a heated national debate on mammography screening for a number of reasons. First, the underlying science is not likely to change. After many large scientific trials and real-life experience spanning the past forty years and more, we know that screening mammography reduces deaths from breast cancer. Second, the fight over screening women under fifty has always been about access. At both the federal and state levels, political leaders have made the decision that American women have a right to screening mammography starting at age forty.

Keywords:   mammography screening, mammograms, breast cancer, American Cancer Society, Otis Brawley

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