The Fault In Our Stars: When Celebrity Health Advice Conflicts With Our Science

By David Sampson

Len Lichtenfeld, M.D.

Dr. Len’s Cancer Blog is experiencing technical difficulties, so we’re posting his entry from earlier this week here.

Len Lichtenfeld, M.D.

Dealing with a diagnosis of cancer remains a very scary, emotionally charged experience. That experience is not helped by the addition of conflicting advice, especially advice based on opinion and not evidence. And once in a while, that’s what happens when a celebrity is the source of the information, as has now occurred with Sandra Lee. But this time reporters are stepping up to address the issue on the record.

Many of you are familiar with the now widely available interview Ms. Lee gave with ABC’s Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, herself a cancer survivor who has openly shared her journey with the public. Ms. Lee told the nation that she has breast cancer, that a lumpectomy had positive margins, and that her doctors recommended a double mastectomy since she was a a�?ticking time bomba�? in her words.

What the nation also knows is that Ms. Lee at the age of 48 was critical of guidelines that-in her words-tell women to wait until they are 50 to get a screening mammogram. She also recommended that women of all ages, even in their 20s and 30s, call their health professional now and get a mammogram. In short, all women a�?need to knowa�? whether or not they have breast cancer.

A diagnosis of breast cancer is traumatic. A positive mammogram that turns out not to be cancera��what doctors call a a�?false positivea�?a��is also traumatic, especially if a women has to endure the uncertainty of follow-up tests including additional x-rays and biopsies, which are certainly uncomfortable at the least and disfiguring at the worst. Younger women have a greater number of false positive mammograms, in part because their breast tissue is …read more

Source:: American Cancer Society