Tuesday, March 22, 2005

When Statistics Scare

While I am on a roll, might as well tackle this one also.

Coming home from church tonight was listening to the radio. Usual music playing, since it was current pop music I treated it as background noise until they got to a PSA.

First off, yes breast cancer is pretty darn scary. Happened to my Mom. I was a very small child so never understood why she had to go to the hospital until many years later. So I agree when the radio spot says, early detection is a very good thing. And we have a local non-profit which was running this ad to gather up donations to help pay for free screenings for women who can not afford one.

All this is really great until the narrator says the following
One in eight women will get breast cancer and men are 15% of all breast cancer cases.

I wish they would get their statistics right before trying to scare people. Lets look at the Breast Cancer Action web-site. Well gee according to them, the actual statistic for women in 2004 was one in seven. For cases of male breast cancer the rate is, gasp, less than 1% and in 2004 maybe 1600 men in the United States will be diagnosed with it.

Of course Breast Cancer Action's little FAQ on the rise in the rates of breast cancer is overly simplistic. One in 22 in the 1940s to the present one in seven. It almost casually dismisses all the technological progress in the detection of lumps in the early stages, mammograms and such. Plus the education push for women to spot the signs before the lump mestatizes and spreads that has occurred in the past thirty years. Of course this site then trots out a link to another part of their web-site with evidence that it is chemicals and such which are causing the rise in breast cancer rates. I wish they would link to the CDC in Atlanta.

Well I take that back, BAC does link to SEER. Look on page 3 of this PDF and will see the rates of breast cancer for men and women. In their FAQ, BAC was talking about women in their 20s getting breast cancer but never an exact percentage, well in that document we can see that for all races of women it is 0.0113% which if I am reading the decimals right means they have a chance to develop breast cancer which is just above the overall rate for men[0.0061%].

That is interesting. I just learned some more tonight. All because I was irate at a radio PSA. Just goes to show how people with agendas will distort things to support their argument and hope we do not actually go look.

Still it behooves all women to be alert to any changes and if they find them, get it checked out. Because when that lump is felt, statistics do not matter because suddenly it is personal and the only statistic that matters is survival. Just like my Mom who has been cancer free for all these years.

This concludes tonight's Public Service Announcement. We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

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